Saturday, November 13, 2010

Egypt detains blogger even after completion of sentence

Reporters without Borders has raised a protest against the prolongued detention of the Egyptian Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, whose four year prison sentence was completed on 5 November but who has been rearrested nevertheless and is kept in detention illegally.
Suleiman, who is better known under his blog name Kareem Amer, was arrested in November 2006 for criticising the government’s religious and authoritarian excesses in his blog ( He was sentenced on 22 February 2007 to three years in prison for inciting hatred of Islam and another year for insulting the president. His blog entries also criticised discrimination against women and the Sunni University of Al-Azhar where he studied law until he was expelled and sued by his professors. He was previously arrested for similar reasons on 2005.
Kareem Amer has been subjected to appalling conditions in detention. In letters he has described being put in solitary confinement for 10 days and “physical torture that was covered up by the prison doctor, who altered my medical file.” His request for a new trial was rejected in 2009. His request for early release, for which he qualified a year ago on completing three quarters of his jail term, was also rejected.
Countless protests have been organised by the Free Kareem Coalition during past four years to press for his release. Reporters Without Borders awarded him its “Cyber-Freedom” prize in December 2007. That year, Reporters Without Borders demonstrated outside the Egyptian embassy in Paris and the Egyptian stand at the world tourism trade fair in Paris. Last year, Reporters Without Borders staged another demonstration in support of Kareem Amer in front of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris.
Egypt is ranked 127th out of 178 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index and is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet,” above all because of its harassment of bloggers.

Update 17/11: Abdel-Kareem Nabil (or Kareem Amer) has been released on Tuesday, ten days after his sentence expired. He had been due to be released on  5 November. The fact that he was kept in custody beyond this date led to protests from bloggers and other media. 'He was released yesterday morning," said Gamal Eid, the director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
Amer was the first blogger in Egypt convicted specifically for his writings. His prosecution was part of a government crackdown on bloggers and media outlets.

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