Monday, April 11, 2011

Maikel Nabil Sanad: Blogger imprisoned by Egyptian army

After the fall of Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011, I thought oppression and violation of fundamental rights and freedoms in Egypt - as seen under the Mubarak regime - will be a thing of the past, but since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was empowered to oversee a smooth transition to democracy in Egypt, Egyptians have continued to suffer repression and widespread violation of basic rights. In March, reports of women subjected to forced virginity tests by military personnel shocked rights advocates around the world; last week, two protesters were reportedly killed when the army stormed Tahrir Square to silence protesters calling for a speedy trial of Hosni Mubarak and his cronies on corruption charges. Today, Twitter has been buzzing with disturbing news of the imprisonment of a 25-year old Egyptian blogger, Maikel Nabil Sanad - for being critical of the military in a blog post - and many Egyptians on Twitter have made no secret of their outrage.

Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested on 28 March 2011, tried in a military court and on 10 April 2011, he was declared guilty for insulting the military and sentenced to 3 years in prison in violation of his right to hold and express opinions without state interference.

On 5 April 2011, Human Rights Watch condemned the arrest and trial of Maikel Nabil Sanad, a civilian, in a military court and urged the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to drop charges against the blogger.

News of the arrest of a blogger for being critical of the military is disturbing and of course - frightening. Free people around the world must unequivocally condemn the arrest and imprisonment of Maikel Nabil for "insulting the military" in a blog post.

The imprisonment of a blogger in any part of the world - for expressing opinions on his blog - poses a threat to free expression and internet freedom everywhere.

Egypt is party to international human rights standards that expressly oblige the state to respect the right to hold and express opinions. This right is clearly stated in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and other significant human rights instruments. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces therefore has a legal obligation under international law to respect this right.

It is worth highlighting that the military court used evidence from Nabil's blog and Facebook page to convict him.

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