Maikel Nabil Sanad, an imprisoned blogger who began a hunger strike on 23 August, has now stopped drinking water and his physical condition is extremely worrying.
The conditions in which he is being held have also deteriorated. His family used to be able to see him once a week but the prison authorities have reduced the frequency of visits to two a month. His family was not allowed to see him at the start of this week. Prison officials claimed that Sanad had said he did not want to see anyone.
Reporters Without Borders calls for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds.
Jailed blogger on hunger strike, health failing
The blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad began a hunger strike in Cairo’s Al-Marg prison on 23 August in protest against the three-year jail sentence a military court gave him on 10 April. Sanad has heart problems and his detention since 28 March has undermined his health. He nonetheless says he is determined to continue his protest regardless of the consequences.
“I will no longer accept injustice,” Egypt’s first prisoner of conscience since the revolution recently said. “If my death is the price that must be paid to end this unjust situation, they I will pay it and I will die.”
Sanad reportedly drafted a statement about his decision to go on hunger strike which the prison has refused to release. The prison authorities are also opposing his transfer to the prison infirmary. Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to free Sanad at once or, failing that, to provide him with all the medical care he needs.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces recently abandoned plans to try another blogger, Asmaa Mahfouz, on the same charges as Sanad. Reporters Without Borders urges the council to go further and to end all prosecutions of civilians before military courts.
Court martial sentences blogger to three years in prison for criticizing military
Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the three-year jail sentence that a military court has passed on the blogger and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad for posting a report on his blog criticizing the role played by Egypt’s armed forces in the country’s revolution earlier this year. He is the new government’s first prisoner of conscience.
The sentence was issued discreetly yesterday in the absence of Sanad’s defence and his supporters, who had previously demonstrated outside the court. No appeal is possible. Detained since 28 March, he was tried on 7 April, after several postponements, on charges of insulting the military, publishing false information and disturbing public security.
Challenging the view that the armed forces maintained a relatively neutral stance during the protests in January and February, the report accused them of taking part in the arrests and the torture of demonstrators.
“The methods used by the Egyptian military do not seem to have evolved since Hosni Mubarak’s fall,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “They show the degree to which the military still cannot be criticized and are still a taboo subject. A civilian should not be tried by a military court. This is not the way things are done in the democratic society to which Egyptians aspire.”
Julliard added: “The circumstances of this blogger’s arrest and the conduct of his trial demonstrate a complete lack of consideration by the military for the most basic principles of international law. Egypt has begun a process of democratization and it should now be possible to criticize the armed forces like any other component of the state.”
Reporters Without Borders urges the Egyptian authorities to review Sanad’s trial and free him without delay. This would demonstrate the desire to build a democratic society on the basis of social justice that Prime Minister Essam Sharaf professed on 30 March.
All Sanad did was draw attention to shortcomings within the armed forces, in the country’s general interest. This does not make him a trouble-maker.