EGYPT: Military court set retrial date of blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad on day 57 of his hunger strike

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Cairo/London, 13 October 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EGYPT: Military court set retrial date of blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad on day 57 of his hunger strike

Maikel Nabil SanadMaikel Nabil SanadToday, the date for the re-trial of imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad, who is on the 52nd day of his hunger strike, has been set for next week, 18 October 2011 - which would be day 57 of his hunger strike.

Although the military appeal court on Tuesday 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 Tuesday's judgement looks positive on first view, it can turn into a de-facto death sentence for pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad, as he might not survive long enough to see his re-trial, which has now been set for 18 October.

Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested at the end of March 2011, and sentenced to three years' imprisonment by a military court on 10 April 2011 - in absence of his lawyers. Maikel Nabil Sanad's original 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.

Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International's conscientious objection campaigning worker, who travelled to Cairo for the first trial in April, and again for the hearing on Tuesday, comments: "The ruling of the appeal court from Tuesday, and todays decision to not release him pending his re-trial next week, can easily turn into a de-facto death sentence for Maikel Nabil Sanad. Why did the court not release Maikel pending a re-trial? After 52 days of hunger strike, any delay to his release can mean his death, and the those who refused to release him are de-facto responsible of manslaughter, should Maikel die."

War Resisters' International is extremely concerned about Maikel Nabil Sanad's life. He is already suffering from serious health effects as a result of 52 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.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International

The organisation asks for continued support for Maikel Nabil Sanad. Protest letters can be sent via:

http://wri-irg.org/campaigns/supportmaikelnabil

Protest emails can also be sent directly to

Excellency Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Minister of Defence of Egypt,
mmc@afmic.gov.eg, mod@afmic.gov.eg

Contacts:
Andreas Speck: +44-7973-683936

War Resisters' International, 5 Caledonian Rd., GB-London N1 9DX
Tel.: +44-20-7278 4040, Fax: +44-20-7278 0444
Mobile: +44-7973-683936
eMail: info@wri-irg.org, Website: http://www.wri-irg.org