Egypt group sues over mobile blackouts

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) is suing mobile phone companies and Internet providers in Egypt for cutting off their service during the recent unrest in the country, the NGO said in a press release.

ANHRI, which defends freedom of expression in the Middle East and North Africa, filed a complaint to Egypt’s Prosecutor General last week, demanding that the minister of communications, chairman of the National Telecommunications Authority and CEOs of Mobinil, Vodafone and Etisalat companies, along with the country’s Internet providers, are put under investigation for the communication blackout that hit Egypt from January 28 through February 2.

During the 18 days of protests, which finally brought an end to the 30-year rule of Hosni Mubarak, the regime tried to cut communications in the country in the hopes that protesters would leave.

ANHRI said many lost their lives as a result of the cut in communications, not being able to call an ambulance or get urgent medical supplies to injured demonstrators.

The rights group said one of the victims of police brutality, Ahmed Abdel-Rahim Ahmed, 18, was shot in the chest by officers from the interior ministry while taking part in the peaceful demonstrations. His friends tried to reach an ambulance, but “the interruption of telecommunications denied Ahmed of the right to treatment.”

Shortly after Ahmed reached a hospital, carried by his friends, he died from massive blood loss.

“The criminality of telecommunications companies and ISPs during the revolution of January 25 did not stop at the violations of Egyptian citizens in communication and their right to free expression, but the criminality extended to participation in the siege of peaceful demonstrators and the deliberate denial of medical aid, which holds them criminally responsible and that the General Prosecutor has to open an urgent investigation so these criminals would not enjoy impunity,” the group said in a statement.

By Manar Ammar

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