Reporters Without Borders hails yesterday’s decision by a state security court to release the blogger Alaa Abdelfattah from Cairo’s Bab el Khalk prison, where he spent nearly two months in pre-trial detention. The court has nonetheless banned him from leaving the country pending trial.
“We hope that this is a first step towards withdrawal of all the charges against Abdelfattah and recognition of his innocence,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The authorities must put a stop to the political trials of civilians and accept their own responsibility for the violence that has taken place during street protests.”
Arrested on 30 October on a charge of inciting violence against the armed forces during rioting in the Cairo district of Maspero, Abdelfattah is now charged with stealing a firearm belonging to a soldier, attacking military personnel, destroying military property, murder with premeditation and intending to commit a terrorist act. The date of his next hearing is not known.
Maikel Nabil Sanad, a blogger who was given a two-year jail sentence on 14 December, is still being held in an isolation cell. Reporters Without Borders reiterates its appeal to the authorities to free him without delay.
Two bloggers who symbolise the revolution are still behind bars
Reporters Without Borders deplores the continued detention of the Egyptian bloggers Alaa Abdelfattah and Maikel Nabil Sanad, in custody respectively for one month and eight months. Almost 10 months after the end of Hosni Mubarak’s rule, the Egyptian authorities are still pursuing a policy of repression towards bloggers and the Internet.
Alaa Abdel Fattah to stay in custody
The High State Security Court in Cairo yesterday rejected Alaa Abdel Fattah’s application for bail.
The netizen was arrested and taken into custody on 30 October. He first appeared before a military court, where he was charged with the theft of a weapon belonging to a soldier, assaulting army personnel, destruction of military property and incitement to violence against the military during riots in the Cairo district of Maspero on 9 October.
He refused to answer questions from the court in protest against the regular practice of trying civilians before military courts.
His case was transferred to a civilian court, the High State Security Court, on 22 November. Far from showing greater leniency, this court added other serious charges to the case against him, namely premeditated murder with the intent of committing an act of terrorism. If he is convicted, there will be no right of appeal against the verdict.
At the next hearing due on 13 December, he could be remanded in custody for a further two weeks for the third time in succession.
A petition in support of the detained blogger can be accessed online.
Verdict looms in trial of Maikel Nabil Sanad
Reporters Without Borders condemns the political trial of the blogger and prisoner of conscience Maikel Nabil Sanad.
Since hearings have been postponed many times, the netizen has so far been in prison for more than eight months. The military court announced two days ago that the military will announce its final judgement tomorrow, after once again rejecting his application for bail.
Sanad was confined to the El-Khanka psychiatric clinic in Qalubiyah province on the orders of a judge on 18 October. He was subsequently transferred to Cairo’s El-Marg prison after a favourable medical diagnosis. His family was allowed to visit him yesterday as he began the 105th day of a hunger strike. He is also suffering from kidney stones.
The blogger recently highlighted the crackdown carried out by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in a blog post on the NGO website Mideast Youth.
Reporters Without Borders published a report on 1 December entitled “Upheaval in the Arab world: Media as key witnesses and political pawns”, which analyses the methods used by the authorities to prevent the flow of information in six countries where there have been popular uprisings, from 17 December 2010 to mid-November this year. It includes a section on Egypt.
During rioting on the eve of the elections in late November, many netizens were arrested or assaulted by troops.
The press freedom organization again urges the Egyptian authorities to halt threats of any kind towards netizens and media workers and to end the political trials of Alaa Abdel Fattah and Maikel Nabil Sanad, who should be exonerated and released unconditionally.
Military prosecutors detain blogger in connection with Copt demonstration
Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday’s decision by military prosecutors in Cairo to detain the activist and blogger Alaa Abdelfattah for a minimum period of 15 days on a charge of inciting violence at a protest by Coptic Christians on 9 October.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must put a complete end to prosecutions of civilians before military courts or else it will endanger the success of Egypt’s transition to democracy,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“The army, which oversees the prosecutor’s office that has charged Abdelfattah, is itself suspected of involvement in the violence being blamed on him. The Supreme Council’s methods are jeopardizing the establishment of impartial justice in post-Mubarak Egypt.”
Reporters Without Borders calls for the immediate release of Abdelfattah and all the other civilians and political prisoners held by the armed forces, including the netizen Maikel Nabil Sanad, who continues to be detained although his physical condition is now critical.