Rights groups criticize the arrest of an Egyptian blogger
An AP report by Nadia Abou El-Magd…
International and local rights groups on Tuesday demanded the release of an Egyptian blogger and member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood who was arrested after reporting on torture.
Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, 27, a well-known blogger and correspondent for the London-based Al-Hewar Arabic TV Channel, was arrested early Sunday at Cairo International Airport.
Mahmoud is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood _ Egypt’s largest opposition group that has been banned since 1954. Egyptian authorities accuse him of being part of banned group and publishing and disseminating news about torture at police stations, his lawyer Islam Lutfi told The Associated Press.
He was ordered detained for 15 days pending an investigation, Lutfi and police said.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday called for Mahmoud’s immediate release and voiced concern over the “increasingly repressive policies toward online dissent” in Egypt.
Elijah Zarwan, a Cairo-based researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, said Mahmoud’s arrest was another example of how the Egyptian government was prosecuting a journalist because he reported on human rights abuses.
“The government should focus its energies on ending the abuses, not silencing those who expose them,” Zarwan said.
Mahmoud’s arrest comes two months after another Egyptian blogger, Abdel Kareem Nabil, was sentenced to four years in prison for insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak. The U.S. and several rights groups have criticized Egypt for his conviction.
“The Egyptian government has now detained bloggers for criticizing Islam and for belonging to a group that promotes it. The real targets are free speech and those who use this right to criticize the government,” Zarwan said.
Mahmoud spent six months in prison last year and a few weeks in jail in early 2003 for belonging to the Brotherhood. In recent months,
authorities have stepped up their crackdown against the Brotherhood, arresting dozens.
In late March, Mahmoud told a conference about torture in Cairo that he was tortured during his 2003 detention. On his blog, he also campaigned against transferring civilians to military courts.
Last week, Amnesty International accused Egypt of systematic torture in prisons and police stations. It warned that human rights
abuses were likely to worsen because of constitutional amendments approved last month that suspended civil rights in terror investigations and enabled the state to prosecute civilians in military courts.
Egypt rejected the report, calling it inaccurate and unfair.
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