Egypt: Calls for solidarity with Egyptian anti-torture blogger Wael Abbas

Egypt: Calls for solidarity with Egyptian anti-torture blogger Wael Abbas

CAIRO: Egyptian activists and bloggers are gearing up for today’s showdown between the government and leading blogger Wael Abbas, who was sentenced last fall to 6 months in prison. Most analysts and observers have argued these charges are trumped up and an effort by Cairo to put Abbas behind bars.

Abbas has been the leading voice in the anti-torture campaign in Egypt, publishing a number of videos on his website that reveal the stark nature of Egyptian police life. His work has seen the government harass him and his family in an effort to force his silence.

“These charges are ridiculous and there is no basis to put Abbas in any position where he would go to jail,” said Amira, a 29-year-old activist and consultant. “What has he done, published information on the horrible police system and torture in Egypt?”

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) – one of Egypt’s leading pro-freedom of expression organizations – has expressed its solidarity with the embattled blogger.

The case, they said, “strongly bears a manipulation of law.”

Abbas was sentenced to 6 months in prison last November in absentia after he had attended a conference in Beirut. Shortly before the sentencing, which came as a shock to the Egyptian blogosphere, his mother was attacked in his Cairo home.

“Neither Wael Abbas nor ANHRI lawyers were notified on the case until the moment security forces raided Wael’s home to execute the sentence in December 2009,” ANHRI said in a press statement.

They added that the entire case is “fabricated.”

ANHRI lawyers hope that the court “would be considerate on this fabricated case that clearly displays the meeting of interests of the interior ministry to take revenge at the blogger, known for exposing many torture and corruption incidents and the pay back desire of one of the officers.”

The watchdog demanded that the government drop all charges against Abbas and punish the officers responsible for the vendetta against Abbas. Much of the case is based on one of Abbas’ neighbors who has a relationship with local police officers and the government has used the case as a means of putting the influential voice behind bars, rights activists have claimed.

“These fabricated cases against bloggers turned to be a known approach of the interior ministry,” ANHRI continued. “Filing such a charade case against a well-known blogger, is indeed a terror message to all other bloggers and an attempt to intimidate them and silence them on the police practices of the interior ministry.

“We are calling on all defenders of freedom of expression and anti-torture activists in Egypt and the world to solidarity with Wael Abbas and not to leave him prey of the interior ministry, the prime aggressor on the law in Egypt, a ministry that unleashes officers to violate rights of Egyptian citizens.”