Egyptian Blogger's Summons Adds Fuel to Campaign Against Military Trials

Photo of Alaa Abd El Fattah from personaldemocracy on Flickr (CC-BY-SA-2.0)

Alaa Abd El Fattah, a well-known Egyptian blogger and activist who was imprisoned in 2006 under the Mubarak regime, learned on Monday that he has been summoned by a military prosecutor. Though he was expected to face the prosecutor today, his summons was postponed until Sunday, when he returns from the United States, where he's speaking at a conference on technology and human rights.  According to a tweet, he suspects that he will be charged with incitement to violence and destruction of public property.

According to Al Masry Al Youm, a video blogger has claimed to have video evidence against Alaa that shows him throwing stones on October 9 and alleges that the blogger incited violence during the massacre of Coptic Christians that took place that day.  The video, posted to YouTube, contains no evidence to support the claims. In contrast, Al Masry Al Youm states that it witnessed Alaa assissting the wounded following protests on October 9.

The New York Times also reported on the situation, stating that Alaa's father is “‘not worried’ about the fact that his son faces interrogation by a military prosecutor.”

Alaa, who recently attended the Third Arabloggers Meeting in Tunis, spoke Tuesday at the Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference in San Francisco (which he had scheduled prior to knowledge of his interrogation), mentioning the case of jailed blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad and reiterating the call for an end to military trials in Egypt:

Let me take 30 seconds to speak out against extra-ordinary justice. I’m going to be facing it when I get back to Egypt, in front of our military government. Here you should be familiar with extraordinary justice, as it was practiced in Guantanamo.  There are roughly 12,000 civilians in military prison right now, for participating in a revolution the military pretends to have sided with, and sometimes it is for events in which the military committed the crimes, not civilians. I urge you to find ways to stand with anyone facing this future.

Since January 28, more than 12,000 civilians have been tried by military courts in Egypt.  A growing campaign demands an end to military trials, echoing Alaa's claim of extraordinary justice.  International groups such as Human Rights Watch have spoken out against the actions of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, stating that the prosecutions demonstrate ” how Egypt’s military rulers are undermining the transition to democracy.”  The Christian Science Monitor noted that “not a single prosecution has been made in cases of military abuse and torture this year in which the Army promised investigations.”

Under SCAF rule, free expression is not a right, echoing for many life under the Mubarak regime.  In July, Asmaa Mahfouz was interrogated over a tweet, while blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad has been imprisoned since April and on hunger strike since August.

For his part, Alaa has asked that those wishing to support him stand against military trials in Egypt:



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