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Egypt: Bloggers Detained .. Again .. and Released

In what has now become the norm, two prominent Egyptian bloggers, along with a human rights lawyer, were detained in custody today and later released.

Another blogger has also been called by telephone to appear at a police station – which he refused to do unless he received official summons. Citing security reasons, this third blogger contacted GV and asked that all reference to his case be dropped.

The two bloggers were Alaa Abdel Fattah and his wife Manal and the lawyer is Jamal Eid, the director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information. Alaa has previously spent time behind bars for his activism.

Washington DC-based Egyptian blogger Nora Younis announced the developments with alarm, saying that authorities are closing in on bloggers and are continuing escalating the stand off between them.

تم استدعاء المدونين علاء ومنال، والمحامي الحقوقي جمال عيد مدير الشبكة العربية لمعلومات حقوق الانسان، للمثول أمام نيابة امبابة وجاري التحقيق معهم الآن بتهمة سب وقذف القاضي عبد الفتاح مراد

عبد الفتاح مراد كان قد رفع قضية ضد الحكومة مطالبا اياها بأغلاق 13 موقع ومدونة على الانترنت من المواقع والمدونات الداعمة للحريات، وحقوق الانسان، والتي كشفت وقائع تعذيب المواطنين في أقسام الشرطة مؤخرا وتقود حملات ضد جلادي وزارة الداخلية، وضد الدولة البوليسية، وتتلقى شكاوى المواطنين، وتقوم بعلاج ضحايا العن

“Bloggers Alaa and Manal have been summoned, along with Arabic Network for Human Rights Information director Jamal Eid, to appear in front of the Public Prosecutor and are now being questioned for insulting Judge Abdel Fattah Murad. Murad had earlier filed a law suit against the government calling for the closing of 13 websites and blogs, which promote freedom and human rights and which have exposed torture being committed against citizens at police stations. The sites have also been active in leading campaigns against the Interior Ministry's tyrants as well as against the police state. The blogs and sites also look into people's complaints and attempt to treat the victims of torture,” explained Younis.

بدأت المهزلة عندما نشر عبد الفتاح مراد كتابا عن المدونات وتهافت فيه على حقوق الملكية الفكرية وحذر من النقل في الوقت الذي نقل هو فيه أكثر من 50 صفحة من تقرير الشبكة العربية لحقوق الانسان

بدلا من الاعتراف بالنقل الحرفي، قام القاضي بقلب الطاولة على المدون

“This farce started when Abdel Fattah Murad published a book on blogging in which he rallied for intellectual property rights and warned against plagiarism at the time he himself had lifted 50 pages from the report prepared by the Arabic Network for Human Rights. Instead of admitting what he did, the judge turned the table against the bloggers,” she added.
ويأتي كل هذا في اطار التصعيد العام للدولة البوليسية -دستوريا- ضد النشطاء سياسيا من المدونين. حتى في حال اخلاء سبيلهم، ان حدث، فلن يكون من المستبعد اعادة مقاضاتهم مرة أخرى بعد التصنت على مكالماتهم وتسجيل مراسلاتهم – وكله وفق الدستور والقانون. فأي شيء يقال الآن على مبارك والحكومة والتعديل الدستوري المزور يقع في اطار سب
“This is all considered as part of the framework of general escalations the police state is using – in line with the Constitution – against bloggers who are politically active. Even if they were released, if that happens, it wouldn't be surprising if they were put on retrial again after tapping their phone calls and recording their correspondence – which is all being done according to the Constitution and the Law. After all, anything that is now uttered against Mubarak, the Government and the forged Constitutional amendments fall within the category of libel.”

Younis also gives us updates on the condition of the detained activists.

تحديث 4:40 مساءا توقيت القاهرة: قسم شرطة الدقي يمتنع عن اخلاء سبيل علاء سيف، ومنال بهي، وجمال عيد بحجة عدم وجود الضابط المختص

تحديث 3:40 مساءا توقيت القاهرة: جاري الآن ترحيل علاء ومنال وجمال الى قسم شرطة الدقي. مطلوب تضامن المدونين والنشطاء بالتواجد أمام القسم

Update: 4.40pm Cairo Time: Al Duqi Police Station refuses to release Alaa Saif, Manal Bahi and Jamal Eid under the pretext that the concerned police officer isn't present
3.40pm Cairo Time: Alaa, Manal and Jamal are being transferred to the Duqi Police Station. Bloggers and activists are being urged to show up in front of the police stations.

Other bloggers who have reported the incident were Sandmonkey, Hossam El Hamalawy and Malek.

4 comments

  • thanx for solidarity.

    we are free now, while this case is primarily mobilized by judge murad as reaction to bloggers exposing his plagiarism. still I think we’ll see more cases like this in the future where the state uses (or benefits from) semi independant agents (al azhar in karim’s case, judge murad in ours etc.) to punish and intimidate bloggers without appearing to directly target them.

    also the detain for one day and make release process painful method will be used more and more, after the 100s time it’ll stop being news, we’ll waste most of our energies police stations hoping making sure our friends are safe and technically we are not even detained.

    I’m not sure how we should deal with this new situation.

  • They are free now.

    I would like to make sure that things are clear. this is a libel case against the three of them after exposing plagiarism done by the Judge, and AFAIK things are going on within the procedings of the normal civil law and no emergency laws were in effect. Or other human rights violating actions.

    They were freed with no bail. And they still have a lawsuite against them.

    This doesn’t mean that I am very concerened about them.

    Also to highlight Nora’s comment. What she means by a farce is the plagiarist judge trying to silence the three of them by raising a libel case against them.

    And of course, it is normal Egyptian custom for people doing a government job or a law enforecement agent to not take his job seriously enough and tries to be highly unprofessional.

  • mostafa it is not true that proceedings are perfectly normal and no human rights violations happened.

    proceedings are definitely colored by the judges influence, note also that the two witnesses who testified against us are the lawyers who started the hesba case against Abdol Karim, the whole thing is very fishy.

    the normal process of justice in Egypt is rife with human rights violations, the fact that it is legal, common and minor relative to the more serious abuses does not mean “no human rights violated”

    also proceedings are withing criminal law not civil law. and since the constitutional amendment it is meaningless to speak of emergency law, what used to be a special case is now the constitution.

  • Manal and Alaa were accused of a crime that’s maximum penalty is a fine. However, they could have spent weeks in jail waiting to be tried.

    This is the regular procedure.

    Manal, Alaa and Gamal were ordered to be freed at 14:30, but they did not leave immediately. They had to be taken to a Doqqi police station, then to Giza security department, then to Doqqi police station again before they are freed (to check their criminal record supposedly), a process which lasted until after ten in the night.

    It is slow justice, and this is the regular procedure.

    They were actually lucky the thing ended in a single day, and there was not hand-cuffs involved for so long (after being freed).

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