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EGYPT: Imprisoned blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad to be re-tried, but not released. De-facto death sentence after 50 days of hunger strike

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Maikel Nabil SanadMaikel Nabil SanadWar Resisters' International is extremely concerned about the life of imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad. Although the military appeal court declared the initial sentence of three years' imprisonment void, and ordered a re-trial of the blogger, who has been on hunger strike since 23 August, the court did not order his release pending re-trial. While today's judgement looks positive on first view, it is a de-facto death sentence for pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad, as he might not survive long enough to see his re-trial, which could be in one week or even up to one month.

In a statement at the beginning of his hunger strike, he declared that his hunger strike is in protest against the severe injustice he is subjected to, namely his unfair trial in front of a military court, the slow processing of his appeal, and the difference of treatment in the cases of Asmaa Mahfouz and Louie Nagati (who had their charges dropped on 18 August 2011) and in his case.

He demanded that the injustice his is suffering is being investigated by the prosecutor, and also requested to be transferred to the prison hospital. He ended his statement: "I will no longer accept injustice, and if my death is the price I have to pay to put an end to this injustice by the military, I am prepared to pay it."

Maikel Nabil Sanad's sentence is based on article 184 of the Egyptian penal code, which criminalizes "insulting the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council or any State Authority, or the Army or the Courts", and article 102, "spreading false information".

Egypt is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial in article 14, and freedom of opinion and expression in article 19. The interim constitution of Egypt also guarantees the right to freedom of expression, and the freedom of the press.

In his writings, Maikel Nabil Sanad made use of his right to freedom of opinion and expression. This includes his right to criticise the role of the military during and after the revolution. On 21 July 2011, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations passed a new General Comment 34 on the right to freedom of opinion and expression. It writes: "States parties should not prohibit criticism of institutions, such as the army or the administration." (see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/GC34.pdf). The sentencing and imprisonment of Maikel Nabil Sanad is in clear violation of the interpretation of article 19 ICCPR, as shown in General Comment 34.

War Resisters' International is extremely concerned about Maikel Nabil Sanad's life. He is already suffering from serious health effects as a result of 50 days of hunger strike (and in total 12 days of thirst strike), and has not even been transferred to a proper hospital, where he could be treated. In addition, he is determined to continue his hunger strike until his release, and today the military court missed a chance to safe his life.

War Resisters' International calls for urgent letters of support to Maikel Nabil Sanad:
Maikel Nabil Sanad
El-Marg prison
El-Kalag
El-Khanka
Qalyubeya
Egypt
Letters to Maikel can also be sent via http://wri-irg.org/campagins/supportmaikelnabil

War Resisters' International calls for urgent letters of protest to the Egyptian authorities.

Director of Military Judiciary
Major-General Ahmed Abd Allah
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +202 2 402 4468 / +202 2 411 3452 (ask for fax)

Military General Attorney
Major-General Medhat Radwan
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
+202 2 412 0980 (ask for fax)

Minister of Defence
His Excellency Muhammad Tantawi
Ministry of Defence
Cairo, Egypt
mmc@afmic.gov.eg ; mod@afmic.gov.eg
Fax: +20 2 2 5748 822
A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/13765.

War Resisters' International calls on the Egyptian authorities to respond to Maikel Nabil Sanad's hunger strike and to immediately release him pending his re-trial.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International