Gamal Eid of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Ahmed Seif El Islam Hamad of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC) and blogger Amr Gharbeia reached an out-of-court settlement on 18 September with the judge who has been suing them for defamation.
After hearings were postponed five times in a row, Judge Abdel Fattah Murad agreed to withdraw his lawsuit and they agreed to withdraw a complaint accusing him of plagiary. The case is now closed.
A blogger and two human rights activists to be tried this weekend
The trial of blogger Amr Gharbela and activists Gamal Eid and Ahmed Seif El Islam Hamad was adjourned for the third time on 17 July, this time until 31 July.
Published on 15 July 2010
Two human rights activists – Gamal Eid of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and Ahmed Seif El Islam Hamad of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC) – and a blogger, Amr Gharbeia, are to be tried before a criminal court in the Cairo district of Khalifeh on 17 July on charges of insult, defamation, blackmail and “abuse of the Internet service.”
“This trial reflects the hostile climate and judicial harassment that human rights activists must endure in Egypt,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Instead of prosecuting these activists, the judicial system should be examining the allegation of plagiary that has been levelled against the plaintiff, Judge Abdel Fattah Murad.”
The press freedom organisation added: “The judge brought his lawsuit against the three activists in connection with a joint report issued by the ANHRI and HMLC on 11 February 2007 in which they accused the judge of plagiarising an ANHRI report in his book, ‘The Scientific and Legal Principles of Blogs’.”
The judge already brought a libel suit against Gamal Eid and two bloggers in 2007 and tried to have around 50 websites, including the HMLC site closed, but they were acquitted.
The trial that opens on 17 July is just one example of the harassment and violence to which netizens and human rights activists are exposed in Egypt. Mohammed Khaled Said was beaten to death by two police officers outside an Internet café on 6 June after posting a video incriminating policemen in a drug deal (http://en.rsf.org/egypt-two-policemen-who-beat-activist-to-06-07-2010,37879.html).
The two police officers, Mahmoud Salah Amin and Awad Asmail Souleiman, have been detained pending trial on 27 July on charges of arbitrary arrest, torture and use of excessive force, but not murder. No charges have been brought against their supervising officer.
Reporters Without Borders reiterates its call for a fair trial in the Said case, one that takes account of all of its aspects including the fact that it ended tragically in Said’s death.
Reporters Without Borders is also concerned by an online journalist’s recent arrest. Sherif Abd El Amid, the editor of the El-Saff website (http://www.elsaff.com/), was arrested on 4 July after posting a blog entry about alleged corruption by Amrou Ali Abd El-Manaam, a parliamentarian from the village of El-Saff. Accused of insulting and defaming the parliamentarian, he was freed after a four-day hunger strike
The blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known by his blogging name of Kareem Amer, is meanwhile still in prison. Arrested on 6 November 2006 for posting blog entries criticising the authoritarian tendencies of senior clerics and President Hosni Mubarak’s government, he has now spent a total of 1,347 days in detention. The authorities continue to refuse to release him although he has served two thirds of his sentence.