Amnesty calls on Egypt to free blogger on hunger strike

CAIRO- Rights group Amnesty International on Monday called on Egypt to immediately release a blogger who has gone on hunger strike to protest against his imprisonment by a military court.
The court sentenced Maikel Nabil Sanad, who began his hunger strike on August 23, to three years in prison in April for insulting the armed forces on his blog.

His health "has greatly deteriorated since prison authorities took away vital heart medication," the London-based watchdog said in a statement, citing testimony from his relatives.
"It is deeply worrying that Egypt’s treatment of dissenters seems to have changed little since President (Hosni) Mubarak was in charge," Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa deputy director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said in the statement.
"Maikel Nabil Sanad must be released immediately and unconditionally. In the meantime, he must be given the medical attention he requires," the statement quoted her as saying.
The military took charge after an uprising forced Mubarak to resign in February. It has faced criticism for sentencing thousands of civilians in military courts for offences ranging from assault and rape to insulting the ruling generals.
The military earlier this month denied Nabil was a "prisoner of conscience" and said he could appeal his conviction.
"What Nabil wrote on his blog is unrelated to opinion; it was a clear transgression of all boundaries of insult and libel, and manufactured lies against the armed forces," the official MENA news agency quoted a military official as saying.
The official added Nabil had also called on people to refuse the mandatory military service which most men have to do.
Nabil's trial was the first of a blogger since the military took charge.

Monday, September 26th 2011

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