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Egypt: A Facebook User in A Military Court

Categories: Egypt, Legal Threats

Screenshot of the facebook page.

Many of Egyptian Facebook users are both surprised and outraged by the military trial of one of them; Ahmad Hassan Bassiouny [2], is one of the 2.4 million Egyptians on Facebook [3], and because he created a group on this social network [1], he is charged with disclosing military secrets on the internet, thus is under military trial.

The group Bassiouny created is named the Administration Of Military Recruitment And Mobilization [1], after the military authority responsible for receiving the new soldiers and orienting them. Good to note that the military service [4] in Egypt is mandatory for men, they may be exempted or defer it in certain conditions and according to specific terms, but in all cases, every Egyptian male has to handle his status of military service through this administration.

The group includes information about prerequisites for military service, documents needed for recruitment, submission dates, deadlines and other formalities, all this information is available on the press and some of them are already online. Bassiouny was just making it easier to his peers to have everything in one page. The group has now approximately 1800 members. And he clearly stated that his group is ‘unofficial and voluntary’.

After being charged, some of the group members shared the story on Facebook, which was received by denouncing comments. The same reaction came from Human Rights organizations in Egypt, especially that Bassiouny was described as a role model for Egyptian youth by the state owned radio, for creating such group.

The Arabic Network for Human Rigths (ANHRI), Hisham Mubarak Law Center and Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression formed a defense front for Bassiouny, they all expressed their condemnation, stating that:

It is a big mistake to court-martial a young man for loving his country. We cannot find the slightest offense committed by this young man. His deed is out of good will and if he had gone wrong in his initiative, military trials are certainly not the way to react to a group on Facebook

The defense front’s statement [5] also points that is not the first time to have an Egyptian sent to a military court because of his online writings, stressing the impact of standing in solidarity in such cases:

Ahmed Hassan Bassiouny is not the first internet activist to face military trial this year. In March 2010, Ahmed Mostafa was court-martialed because of his writings on the internet. Shortly after and as a result of pressure from human rights organizations, the government stopped the hearings to save the young man’s career.

On Twitter, the same exclamation mark was drawn, especially that on the same week Bassiouny was prosecuted, Michael Nabil [6], who is a contributor to a Facebook group against the mandatory military services [7], was exempted. What made Gue3bara wondering [8]:


How does the army work? On the same week nabil is exempted and Baddiouny is prosecuted?