Reporters Without Borders has called for the case to be dropped against blogger Wael Abbas whose appeal opens tomorrow in Cairo for having sold communications services without a licence.
Neither he nor his lawyers were informed of his trial on these charges and he was sentenced to six months in prison and fined 500 Egyptian pounds (65 euros) in his absence.
“This trial has been completed trumped-up. Wael Abbas should be acquitted. These repeated charges demonstrate that the authorities are hounding a blogger who is not afraid to express himself openly”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “It reveals the regime’s political repression towards critical voices”, it added.
The organisation also pointed out that the bloggers Hani Nazeer and Kareem Amer are both still imprisoned in Bourg al-Arab jail in Alexandria. Nazeer was arrested in October 2008 for posted a link on his website to a book seen as insulting to Islam. He was threatened in his village as a result and fled. The police, instead of protecting him, tried to apprehend him. Nazeer gave himself him up after they threatened to arrest his brothers and sisters. Since then he has been held, without trial, on the basis of an administrative decision of the interior minister under the state of emergency law, even though courts have six times ordered his release.
Amer, who has served three-quarters of his sentence, should have been released, but the regime has opposed it. He was sentenced to four years in prison for “insulting the president” and “inciting hatred of Islam”, on 22 February 2007, after he posted an article on a web forum seen as critical of the government.
Egypt is on a list of 12 “Internet Enemies” drawn up by Reporters Without Borders http://en.rsf.org/internet-enemie-egypt,36679.html