Egypt: Imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad sentenced to two years’ imprisonment
(15.12.2011) Imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by a military court on 14 December 2011, after a re-trial that had been postponed repeatedly, and had turned into a complete farce.
Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested at the end of march on charges of violating article 184 of the Egyptian penal code, which criminalizes "insulting the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council or any State Authority, or the Army or the Courts", and article 102, "spreading false information". In a trial in front of a military court violating all established legal standards, he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment on 10 April 2011, in absence of his family, friends, or lawyers. Since then he has been kept in El Marg prison.
On 23 August, Maikel Nabil Sanad began a hunger strike in protest against his imprisonment. In a statement at the beginning of his hunger strike, he declared that his hunger strike is in protest against the severe injustice he is subjected to, namely his unfair trial in front of a military court, the slow processing of his appeal, and the difference of treatment compared to other cases.
On 11 October, the military appeal court declared the original sentence of 10 April 2011 "null and void", but failed to release Maikel Nabil Sanad.
Maikel Nabil Sanad refuses to co-operate with the re-trial, and also asked his lawyers to stop any co-operation with the military court. On 18 October, a re-trial in front of the military court began, and the court appointed a lawyer to represent him, who - according to one of Maikel Nabil Sanad’s lawyers - was unacquainted with the case. The court ordered to transfer Maikel Nabil Sanad to a psychiatric hospital "for examination", but the hospital refused this attempt at pathologisation of political dissent, and sent him back after a few days, declaring him "sane".
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The sentencing of Maikel Nabil Sanad to two year’s imprisonment is a blatant violation of Egypt’s interim constitution, and of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Egypt is a party. It guarantees the right to a fair trial in article 14, and freedom of opinion and expression in article 19. On 21 July, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations passed a new General Comment 34 on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It writes: "States parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration." (see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/GC34.pdf). The sentencing and imprisonment is in clear violation of the interpretation of article 19 ICCPR, as shown in General Comment 34.
Maikel Nabil Sanad has been adopted by Amnesty International as a "prisoner of conscience", and the human rights organisations is urging Egypt to release him (see http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-urged-release-blogger-sentenced-mil...).
While the case of Maikel Nabil Sanad was the first case of a blogger imprisoned and charged for his blog posts following the toppling of Mubarak, it is by now not the only one. Famous activist and blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested on 30 October, and has been kept on repeated 15 day sentences since, pending an investigation into his case. He was arrested following public criticisms of the army’s conduct on the night of 9 October, when at least 27 people were killed during a Coptic Christian protest in downtown Cairo. Like many other activists, Abd El Fattah accused the army of direct involvement in the bloodshed, a claim that appears to be supported by extensive witness reports and video footage. He was charged by military prosecutors with "inciting violence against the army", and is being held since.
War Resisters’ International calls for urgent letters of support to Maikel Nabil Sanad:
Maikel Nabil Sanad, El-Marg prison, El-Kalag, El-Khanka, Qalyubeya, Egypt
Letters to Maikel can also be sent via http://wri-irg.org/campagins/supportmaikelnabil
War Resisters’ International calls for urgent letters of protest to the Egyptian authorities. A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/14350.
War Resisters’ International calls on the Egyptian authorities to respond to Maikel Nabil Sanad’s hunger strike and to immediately release him.
War Resisters’ International: Egypt: Imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad sentenced to two years’ imprisonment. Press Release, December 15, 2011