Maikel Nabil Sanad, the jailed blogger who has been on hunger strike since 23 August, has been transferred to a prison infirmary after suffering serious heart problems, while Imad Bazzi (@TrellaLB), a Lebanese blogger and cyber-activist who had been in contact with Sanad, was denied entry at Cairo international airport on 5 September.
Bazzi, who is the executive director of CyberACT and has written the Trella.org blog since 1998, said he was questioned by three men in plain clothes at Cairo airport about his online activism before being put on the first plane back to Beirut.
He told Reporters Without Borders: “I am convinced that I was deported because I visited Maikel Nabil Sanad two months ago. He has long been a good friend of mine. Several organizations have said I was on an official blacklist since then, on the orders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, because of my activism on behalf of civil liberties and media freedom.”
Sanad, who is still serving a three-year sentence in Cairo’s Al-Marg prison, was rushed to the prison’s hospital with heart problems on 1 September, two days after he stopped drinking liquids on the eighth day of his hunger strike. He says he plans to resume his hunger strike regardless of the outcome.
Reporters Without Borders deplores the stubbornness of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The situation of bloggers now is reminiscent of the repression that prevailed before Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in February. Reporters Without Borders reiterates its appeal to the authorities to free Sanad at once and to stop obstructing the free movement of news and information professionals.
Unjustly detained blogger, on hunger strike, could die in prison
The international press freedom NGO Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the fate of the blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad and calls for his immediate and unconditional release in order to preserve the democratic nature of Egypt’s political transition.
Freeing the first prisoner of conscience since the revolution would be a powerful symbolic gesture, one that the entire international community would see as a sign of a commitment to openness.
Sanad, who began a hunger strike on 23 August, is now refusing to drink and already has heart problems. Detained since March, his physical condition is very alarming and needs urgent intervention.
“While Sanad’s hunger strike is a personal decision, the authorities are responsible for the cause, an unjust and anti-democratic political imprisonment,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Jean-François Julliard said. “If he does not resume drinking, he could very soon die in detention and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would have to take full responsibility. Held for exercising his right to freedom of expression, Sanad must not become the symbol of a repressive and unjust post-Mubarak Egypt.”
Aged 25, Sanad was arrested by military police on the night of 28 March and was tried by a military court, which sentenced him to three years in prison on 10 April on charges of insulting the armed forces, publishing false reports and disturbing public order.
Neither his family nor his lawyer has been able to see him of late. He used to be allowed one visit a week that this has been reduced to two visits a month.