Reporters Without Borders condemns last night’s disgraceful mistreatment of Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known by the blog name of Kareem Amer, and calls for his immediate release. The detained blogger should have been freed on 5 November on completing a four-year jail sentence.
Kareem Amer was transferred from Burj Al Arab prison to Alexandria on 6 November with the apparent aim of releasing him. But last night, an official reportedly gave him a severe beating at the headquarters of the internal security department in Alexandria. Detained since 6 November 2006, he has been held illegally for the past four days.
“The criminal behaviour of the security forces is shocking and unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Kareem Amer has already suffered enough in prison. This mistreatment must be investigated and the person responsible punished. The Egyptian authorities must also free this blogger at once and stop flouting law. His continuing detention is a complete violation of legality. It is time for his ordeal to end.”
Gamal Eid, the head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, accused the interior ministry of “sadistic practices against an unarmed prisoner” and wondered how the authorities could continue to “beat and hold him illegally” when his release had now become mandatory.
Arrested in November 2006 for criticising the government’s religious and authoritarian excesses in his blog (www.karam903.blogspot.com), Kareem Amer was sentenced on 22 February 2007 to three years in prison for inciting hatred of Islam and another year for insulting the president. His blog entries also criticised discrimination against women and the Sunni University of Al-Azhar where he studied law until he was expelled and sued by his professors. He was previously arrested for similar reasons on 2005.
Kareem Amer has been subjected to appalling conditions in detention. In letters he has described being put in solitary confinement for 10 days and “physical torture that was covered up by the prison doctor, who altered my medical file.” His request for a new trial was rejected in 2009. His request for early release, for which he qualified a year ago on completing three quarters of his jail term, was also rejected.
Countless protests have been organised by the Free Kareem Coalition during past four years to press for his release. Reporters Without Borders awarded him its “Cyber-Freedom” prize in December 2007. That year, Reporters Without Borders demonstrated outside the Egyptian embassy in Paris and the Egyptian stand at the world tourism trade fair in Paris. Last year, Reporters Without Borders staged another demonstration in support of Kareem Amer in front of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris.
Egypt is ranked 127th out of 178 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet,” above all because of its harassment of bloggers.