Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
An Alexandria court has convicted an Egyptian blogger for insulting both Islam and the Egyptian president, sentencing him to four years in jail over his writings on the internet.
During the trial, an Egyptian imam allegedly kidnapped by CIA agents in Italy and taken to Egypt, showed up to speak to the media, breaking his release conditions.
Known as Abu Omar, the former Milan-based imam on Thursday told reporters that he was tortured in an Egyptian prison and that he wants to return to Italy.
He showed the cameras scars he said were from torture in Egyptian jails and said he will resort to the Italian government to help him.
Al Jazeera’s correspondent, Amr El-Khaky reported: “Abu Omar also pleaded to both the Egyptian and American presidents to release all political prisoners”, including US prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Later on Thursday, Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman, the first blogger to stand trial in Egypt for his internet writings, was sentenced to four years in jail.
Suleiman, a 22-year-old former law student, has been in custody since November over eight articles he had written under the name “Kareem Amer” on his blog since 2004.
Rights groups and opposition bloggers have watched Suleiman’s case closely, and worried the conviction could set a legal precedent limiting internet freedom in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country.
A blogger attending the trial who goes by the name “Sandmonkey” said: “It’s a dangerous precedent because it will impact the only free space available now, which is the internet. The charges were undefined and vague.”
Human Rights Watch condemned the trial, saying that the charges Suleiman was convicted for “contradict guarantees of free expression under international law”.
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Egyptian government should abide by its commitments to uphold free expression and release Suleiman without delay.”
Criticism or insult?
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