The Egyptian military has arrested blogger and conscientious objector Maikal Nabil Sanad after he allegedly defamed the armed forces in a blog post. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemned the detention and called for his release and the opening up of online media as a tool for dialogue and free speech.
“How can one trust an institution that promises a democratic transition with civil society’s participation and then jails a pacifist blogger and conscientious objector at the first sign of any criticism?” asked RSF secretary-general Jean-François Julliard in a press statement. “This arrest raises questions about the reality of free speech in Egypt and whether the armed forces are ready to respect it.”
The international press freedom organization said the 25-year-old was arrested by military police on March 28. The following day a military court then ordered him held for 15 days while an investigation could take place.
If found guilty, the blogger could face up to three years in prison on charges of “insulting the military institution and publishing false news about it” and “disturbing public security.”
Egypt went from being an “Enemy of the Internet” to a “country under surveillance” in the annual Internet report that Reporters Without Borders published on March 12. The change was largely due to the initial opening of freedoms following the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak on February 11.
By Desmond Shephard