Egypt: Sad anniversary for Egyptian blogger who was sentenced one year ago



    MONTREAL, Feb. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - "Kareem Amer is a scapegoat. They wanted
to make an example of him. Since then, several bloggers have been forced to
close their blogs or remove entries. Rumours have even been spread about some
of them, accusing them of being Christian converts, homosexuals or criminals,
in order to be able to arrest them and hold them for almost two months, in
some cases. (...) It's by blogging that you attain freedoms in Egypt. It is
the bloggers who tackle taboo subjects and post articles that no other media
would dare publish."
    Reporters Without Borders received the above message from Wael Abbas, a
Cairo-based independent journalist and blogger. A warrant was issued for his
arrest after he posted photos on his blog (http://misrdigital.blogspirit.com/)
that showed two policemen tearing the Egyptian flag during a demonstration in
spring 2006. In January 2007, he was one of the people who posted videos of
policemen torturing detainees. The footage was later used by the authorities
to sentence one of the policemen to three years in prison.
    Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns the way the authorities behave
towards bloggers and it reiterates its call for the release of Abdel Kareem
Nabil Suleiman, a blogger also known by the pseudonym of Kareem Amer, who was
sentenced on 22 February 2007 to four years in prison - three for "inciting
hatred of Islam" and one for defaming President Hosni Mubarak.
    "Kareem Amer should not have been obliged to become the symbol of
repression of the Egyptian blogosphere," the press freedom organisation said.
"He should have been able to continue blogging on the situation in Egypt. He
was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison for an entry posted on his
blog. We call for his release and we appeal to Internet users to ensure that
the straggle of Egypt's bloggers is heard."
    Kareem Amer has been mistreated at Borg El Arab prison, 40 km outside
Alexandria, where he is serving his sentence. In letters to his lawyers he has
spoken of being "shut in an isolation cell for 10 days" and of "physical
torture hushed up by the prison doctor, who has altered my medical record."
    Arrested for the first time in October 2005 for posting anti-religious
comments on his blog (www.karam903.blogspot.com), he spent 18 days in
detention and his computer hard drive was seized, but he was not charged.
    He was arrested again in late 2006 and was tried four months later by
Alexandria's Moharram Bek court. At the second hearing, on 1 February 2007, he
was accused of apostasy by Mohamed Dawoud, a lawyer appearing in an
independent capacity, who called for the "maximum sentence for him who has
insulted, God, His Prophet and the Koran."
    Before his second arrest, Kareem Amer often contributed to discussion
forums on websites such as www.rezgar.com. His goal, after finishing his
studies, was to create a human rights NGO, one that defended Muslim women
against all forms of discrimination and violence. He was awarded the Reporters
Without Borders / Fondation de France prize in the Internet category on
5 December 2007.
    Reporters Without Borders wrote to the Egyptian justice minister on
22 January 2007 asking him to intercede on behalf of Kareem Amer. The
organisation also urged the United Nations not to let Egypt host next year's
Internet Governance Forum. No answer was ever received to the letter and the
forum is to go ahead in Egypt.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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