YouTube Restores Account of Award-Winning Egyptian Blogger

YouTube Restores Account of Award-Winning Egyptian Blogger

YouTube has restored the account of a prominent Egyptian human-rights activist more than a week after shutting it down over questionable video content.

The video Web site restored Wael Abbas” account Friday, a YouTube spokesman said in a statement.

“We are committed to preserving YouTube as an important platform for expression of all kinds, while also ensuring that the site remains a safe environment for our users,” YouTube said. “Balancing these interests raises very tough issues. In this case, our general policy against graphic violence led to the removal of videos documenting alleged human rights abuses because the context was not apparent.

“Having reviewed the case, we have restored the account of Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas — and if he chooses to upload the video again with sufficient context so that users can understand his important message we will of course leave it on the site.”

Abbas — an award-winning blogger who writes regularly about police brutality, torture and sexual harassment in Egypt — has used his YouTube account to post more than 100 videos of police brutality and public demonstrations over the past few years to further the fight for freedoms in his country. Many of the videos, taken with cell phones, are leaked to him by anonymous posters who find that Abbas will report on the stories when mainstream Egyptian media will not.

One of the videos — of an Egyptian bus driver being sodomized with a stick by a police officer — was used as evidence to convict two officers of brutality, a rare occurrence in a country where human-rights groups say torture is rampant.

Abbas said his YouTube account was suspended on Nov. 21.

“What is important to me is to have these videos available online for anybody because the anti-torture campaign in Egypt hasn”t stopped,” Abbas told on Thursday. “There are people being killed in police stations everyday; elections continue to be rigged; there will be interference from the police inside the Egyptian university.

“So these videos are necessary to keep the world informed of what kind of “democracy” that we have in Egypt and what kind of charade that we have here.”

Abbas has run his blog Misr Digital, or Egyptian Awareness, since 2004, covering freedoms of speech and expression topics ignored by mainstream Egyptian media.

His work won him the 2007 Knight International Journalism Award, in recognition of his effort to raise the standards of media excellence in Egypt.

Click here to see his blog (in Arabic).

On Thursday, one of Abbas” Yahoo! e-mails was also suspended, leading him to believe an “electronic war” was being waged against him.