Thursday, October 06, 2011

"Egypt: Court delay is 'death sentence' for blogger"

Fears are growing for the health of Maikel Nabil Sanad, an Egyptian blogger jailed because of his critical stance on the Egyptian military. Nabil has been on hunger strike since August 23rd in protest of his three-year sentence for “insulting the army.” He was due to appear before a tribunal which would reconsider his conviction, but this was postponed until next week because the tribunal did not have the correct documentation. Press freedom organisation, Reporters Without Borders, argue this is merely a way of keeping him in detention without hearing his case. The postponement is being referred to as a “death sentence”, since Sanad had told his family that he would refuse water if he was not released on 3rd October.

Amnesty has warned that Egypt’s military rulers are now responsible for the life of the jailed blogger, and has called for his release. There have also been organised demonstrations in support of Sanad in front of a military court in Cairo. However this has also generated criticism, since soldiers were reported to have attacked activists, arrested journalists, and seized cameras and mobile phones, including material confiscated from Al-Jazeera, Press TV and Christian Science Monitor personnel.

The Egyptian military command’s treatment of Maikel Nabil Sanad, as well as the reaction to the pro-Sanad demonstrations, suggest that the blogger’s criticisms ring true. As Sanad himself put it, we must consider whether “in fact the revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator but not of the dictatorship.”

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