An appeal filed by Egypt’s veteran blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah for his release pending investigation has been denied (Nov. 3) by a Cairo military court. Abdel Fattah was detained on October 30 for 15 days after refusing to be interrogated by a military court, and insisting on his right to be investigated before a civilian court.
Abdel Fattah’s lawyers argued, among other things, that he was a no-flight risk since he was originally in San Francisco when the court summoned him, and he returned a few days later to appear before the court the next day.
It is therefore evident that he is not trying to escape trial. Instead, he insists on his civilian right to being tried before a civilian court, especially that the military is itself accused in the Maspero case for which he is being investigated.
Following the denial of appeal, Abdel Fattah was transferred to Tora prison, which has much better living conditions than the appeals prison he was originally in. He had published an article in Al Shorouk newspaper [in Arabic] and the Guardian [in English] in which he explained that the conditions at the appeals prison are simply inhumane, and declared that his imprisonment is a return to the post-revolution Mubarak days. Abdel Fattah had previously been detained under Mubarak for 45 days in 2006 after participating in a protest in support of an independent judiciary.
A second blog post by Abdel Fattah [a translation of which is available here] was published on the award-winning blog Manal and Alaa Bit Bucket (manalaa.net), which is maintained by the blogger and his wife as one of the first and most popular blogs in Egypt and the Arab world. In his second post from behind bars, Alaa said he was offered and refused a deal to be released if he stops attacking Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, Egypt’s current ruling authority.
On a more personal note, Alaa reveals a graceful self-embarrassment at having asked to be transferred to a more humane prison, thus having to leave other cell mates behind. He tells his readers that although he was brave enough to face imprisonment, he wasn’t brave enough to hear the opinion of his nine-month pregnant wife, Manal, in his decision to remain silent before the military prosecutor, which they knew would probably lead to detention. He knew she would support him anyway, he says. He ends his blog on a note of gratitude, crediting any bit of courage that he has to the influence of his mother, his younger sisters, and his wife, whose being separated from is the hardest part of detention.