Wednesday, November 5, 2008

AFP: Rights group calls for Egypt blogger's release

November 5, 2008

CAIRO (AFP) — Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday called on Egyptian authorities to release a blogger jailed for insulting religion and President Hosni Mubarak as he has now served half his four-year sentence.

Abdel Karim Suleiman, 24, blogged under the name Karim Amer and was jailed for four years in 2006. The press watchdog said his health is fragile and that his family has not visited him.
"Two years have gone by and nothing has changed," the press freedom group said in a statement.

"His family have never come to visit him. Only his lawyer reports to the outside world, about his morale, which weakens day after day, and his fragile state of health.

"His parents, probably as a result of intimidation, have even publicly disowned their son and called for him to be sentenced to death... Two years, that's enough. It is time to free him," said Reporters Without Borders.

Suleiman was convicted of insulting religion and defaming Mubarak after posting an entry on his blog lashing out at Cairo's Al-Azhar University -- the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam.

"I say to Al-Azhar and its university and its professors and preachers who stand against anyone who thinks differently to them: 'You are destined for the rubbish bin of history, where you will find no one to cry for you, and your regime will end like others have'," he wrote.

His conviction was based on a series of vaguely worded articles in the penal code that forbid the spreading of false information, insulting Islam or other revealed religions, and "affronting the President of the Republic."

The decision was seen by international rights groups as an attempt to intimidate Egypt's blogging scene.

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