Egypt: Plight of Bloggers Continues at Military Courts
Supporters wrote Freedom for Alaa Abd El Fattah on the ground outside the Military Prosecution building in Cairo. Photo by Nazly Hussein, posted on Twitter
A military court today decided to jail blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah for another 15 days, 15 days after first detaining him, pending investigations on what defenders say are trumped up charges. Blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad’s trial was also once again postponed until November 27.
Abd El Fattah was detained on October 30, after refusing to be interrogated by the Military Prosecution, in protest against its legitimacy. His arrest, and the international outcry it has caused, is shedding light on the plight of more than 12,000 civilians, including Sanad, who have been put on military trials in Egypt since the the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took power. Abd El Fattah is accused of inciting violence against the military, stealing a weapon and destroying military equipment during the October 9 Maspero massacre, in which 25 Egyptians, mostly Copts, were killed in clashes between the military poilce and protesters demanding answers for the burning of churches in Sohag and Aswan.
Three year sentence for a blog post
Abd El Fattah’s trial coincided with Sanad’s – Egypt’s first blogger to be arrested and charged by a military court after the revolution which ousted Hosni Mubarak as president. Sanad was sentenced to three years in prison, for writing a post on his blog, which the military said was insulting.The charges against Sanad are insulting the armed forces, publishing false information on his blog and disturbing public security. Last month, the Supreme Military Court of Appeals annulled the conviction but continued to hold Sanad, who had started a hunger strike, transferring him to a mental health facility.
Back in prison, Sanad continued with his hunger strike and his defiance to accept being subjected to the trial of a military court, a stance similar to Abd El Fattah’s.
Today’s rulings are seen by many as yet another blow for free speech and human rights in post-revolutionary Egypt.
The Big Pharaoh sums up the day:
@TheBigPharoah: Alaa refused to recognize the military court legitimacy, #MaikelNabil told his lawyers not to speak. Respect. #FreeAlaa
Rasha Abdulla adds:
@RashaAbdulla: Alaa Abdel fattah gets another 15 days in prison pending investigation. MaikelNabil postponed to Nov 27. Min of defence detainees acquitted
At first, news emerged that the Military Prosecutor dropped one of the charges from Abd El Fattah’s accusations – that of stealing a weapon.
Alfred Raouf tweets:
@Azza_Shaaban: Even though the charge of stealing a weapon has been dropped from Alaa Abd El Fattah, the charges of inciting violence, gathering, destruction of property and the use of force still remain
It then turns out that the judge “forgot” to turn the charge sheet to the next page.
Sultan Al Qassemi reports:
Farah Saafan notes:
@FarahSaafan: A Military Council that issues official statements on FB with judges that forget 2 turn pages during trials & can’t protect minorities= SCAF
And Moutaz Dawood adds:
@Moutaz_D: By renewing Alaa Abd El Fattah’s detention, SCAF proves that it doesn’t master the art of negotition and that its only tools are military trials and military police
Meanwhile, Nazly Hussein reports about a defiant Abd El Fattah emerging out of court [ar]:
@nazlyhussein: Alaa just left and chanted: “Down Down with Military Rule” from inside the police jeep
Photo by Nazly Hussein, posted on Twitter