Human Rights Watch
Condemns Egyptian Blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad’s 3-Year Sentence
April 12, 2011
groups have condemned an Egyptian military court for sentencing a
blogger to three years in jail over writings critical of the armed
forces, the first such case since a popular uprising toppled President
Hosni Mubarak in February.
U.S.-based Human Rights Watch Monday criticized blogger Maikel Nabil
Sanad's detention, saying his trial sets “a dangerous precedent.” In
Paris, the media rights group Reporters Without Borders said it was
“shocked” by the three-year sentence and urged authorities to free Sanad
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information, whose legal team handled
the blogger's case, said the tribunal passed the sentence late Sunday
after his lawyers had departed. The group said it had been assured the
judgement would not be announced until Tuesday.
One of Sanad's lawyers called the ruling “a warning to all journalists,
bloggers and rights activists in Egypt.”
The 25-year-old was charged with “insulting the military” and
“disturbing public security.”
His blog had denounced the military's use of violence and detentions
against democracy advocates and asserted that little has changed since
Mr. Mubarak was removed from power. Sanad wrote it was the military that
began detaining a number of bloggers and activists during Egypt's
uprising, including him.
Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency reported Monday that Egyptian Prime
Minister Essam Sharaf, in a speech broadcast on Egyptian television,
expressed regret for a violent crackdown on demonstrators in Cairo,
saying he had asked the justice minister to investigate.
Rights groups have accused the army of using excessive force while
attempting to remove protesters early Saturday in one of the largest
anti-government demonstrations since Mr. Mubarak was ousted.
On Monday, about 2,000 Egyptian protesters defied an army demand to
leave Cairo's main Tahrir Square. They are vowing to stay until Egypt
holds former officials accountable for corruption.
The demonstrators remained behind barbed wire blockades as the army kept
its distance. Protesters have stepped up pressure on Egypt's ruling
military to try Mr. Mubarak and members of his government for corruption
and other crimes.
Justice Ministry Monday ordered the 15-day detention of Safwat el-Sherif,
the secretary-general of the ruling party and once one of the most
powerful men in the country, on corruption charges.
On Sunday, Egypt's public prosecutor said he would summon Mr. Mubarak
for questioning about the killing of protesters and the embezzlement of
public funds, as hundreds of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square
demanded he be brought to trial.
A statement from the prosecutor said Mr. Mubarak's sons Gamal and Alaa
also were summoned in the corruption probe. Also, authorities detained
former prime minister Ahmed Nazif for 15 days as part of a corruption
Mr. Mubarak declared in remarks broadcast Sunday that the allegations
against him are unfounded.