First Published: 2011-04-11

 

Egypt blogger gets 3 years for criticising military

 

Rights groups slam Egyptian military court's verdict that 'was handed out almost in secret'.

 

Middle East Online

By Jailan Zayan - CAIRO

'The new government's first prisoner of conscience'

A military court has jailed a blogger for three years for criticising the armed forces that have ruled Egypt since president Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February, in a decision slammed by rights groups on Monday.

"Regrettably, the Nasr City military court sentenced Maikel Nabil to three years in prison," the blogger's lawyer Gamal Eid said.

"The lawyers were not present, the verdict was handed out almost in secret."

The decision had initially been set for Wednesday and was postponed to Sunday. The lawyers went on Sunday but were told to leave because there would be no verdict, Eid said.

"We were then very surprised to hear that he (Nabil) was sentenced to three years," said Eid, who heads the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).

The verdict is likely to cause concern among Egypt's large network of bloggers who had hoped Mubarak's overthrow in a popular uprising would usher in a new era of freedom of expression.

Reporters Without Borders condemned the ruling, saying Nabil had become "the new government's first prisoner of conscience."

"The methods used by the Egyptian military do not seem to have evolved since Hosni Mubarak's fall," the group's secretary general Jean-Francois Julliard said.

"They show the degree to which the military still cannot be criticised and are still a taboo subject. A civilian should not be tried by a military court," he said.

"Egypt has begun a process of democratisation and it should now be possible to criticise the armed forces like any other component of the state," Julliard said.

Last week, Human Rights Watch called for the charges to be dropped.

It said Egypt's armed forces "should drop all charges against (Nabil) for his Internet posts critical of the military."

"This trial sets a dangerous precedent at a time when Egypt is trying to transition away from the abuses of the Mubarak era," said HRW's Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson.

It was the first trial of a blogger by a military court since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces assumed control after Mubarak resigned on February 11 following 18 straight days of anti-regime protests.

Military police arrested Nabil, a campaigner against conscription, on March 28 after he wrote blogs criticising the military, HRW said.

His posts and comments on social networking website Facebook were used as evidence against him in the trial, HRW quoted his lawyers as saying.

Last year, a military court sentenced another blogger to six months in prison for publishing "military secrets" after he posted instructions on Facebook on how to enlist in the armed forces, his lawyers said at the time.

Another blogger was acquitted after publishing a post on alleged patronage in a military academy.

The military, which has pledged to hand power to a civilian government once parliamentary and presidential elections are held, has tried and sentenced dozens of people in recent weeks for crimes such as robbery and assault.

The trials are speedy and can result in harsh sentences, rights groups say.

 

Iran airs "confessions" of researcher facing death for spying

Mayor of Libya's Misrata assassinated

Macron sees war on IS in Syria will be won in February

Assad blasts US-backed Kurdish fighters

Christmas in Jordan dimmed by Jerusalem crisis

Turkey prosecutor seeks release of German reporter

Kuwait likely to face political uncertainty

Lebanon arrests suspected killer of British embassy worker

Israel targets Hamas site in Gaza

Turkey slams Austria ‘discrimination’

Iran's schools suffocate in smog

Tunisia elections delayed

Istanbul summit strong on the rhetoric, weak on concrete steps

Israeli air traffic halted due to strikes

Two Danes stabbed by man shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ in Gabon

Morocco’s Islamists elect new leader, walking away from predecessor’s populism

UN considers rejecting Trump Jerusalem decision

Palestinians call for protests against Pence Jerusalem visit

Palestinian billionaire detained in Saudi Arabia

Egypt opens Rafah crossing for four days

Turkey court releases 7 suspects in New Year attack trial

Palestinian activist killed in Gaza protests

Foreign fighters a worry as IS struggles to survive

Over half Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in 'extreme poverty'

Palestinians killed in continuing protests over Jerusalem occupation

Bourita: Extraordinary meeting between ECOWAS, Morocco to be held beginning of 2018

Saudi-led air strikes, clashes as Yemen forces battle rebels

Sahel force funding shows terrorism fight is Saudi 'priority'

UN 'appalled' at mass execution of jihadists in Iraq

Iraq's Sistani says Hashed should be under government control

Middle-class Egypt adapts as costs soar

Somalia's budget meets IMF terms

Israel PM questioned in graft probe

US says Iran supplied ballistic missile to Yemen rebels

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists