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Arrests continue as foreign journalists start leaving Egypt

Detained again: Egyptian Abdel Kareem Nabil, known by his blogging name of Kareem Amer, during a presser following his release, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, November 24, 2010.

Military police reportedly detained Abdul Kareem Suleiman Amer, the blogger better known as Kareem Amer, together with the filmmaker Samir Eshra on Cairo’s Kasr El-Nil bridge February 6 evening as they were leaving Tahrir Square. Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) called for their immediate release.

“Kareem Amer owes his prominence to his virulent criticism of the regime,” RSF said. “We fear the authorities will use this opportunity to send him back to prison for a long time.” RSF said it was also concerned about the possibility of reprisals against local journalists, bloggers and fixers as the international media gradually leave Egypt. It appeals for the utmost vigilance and reminds the authorities that they have a duty to guarantee the safety of all the media personnel trying to cover events in Egypt.

Asma Mahfouz, a blogger who urged Egyptians to take to the streets on January 25, told the BBC on February 5 that she had received many phone calls from Mubarak supporters threatening to kill her and her family. RSF has also been told that journalists wanting to go to Tahrir Square have had to register with the information ministry. This constitutes government control over the movements of media personnel and is therefore a form censorship.

On February 7, the press freedom organisation has also received reports of disruption of mobile phone services and problems connecting to the Internet from Tahrir Square.

Kareem Amer was arrested on November 6, 2006 for criticising the government’s religious and authoritarian excesses in his blog and was subjected to appalling conditions in detention. His blog entries had also criticised the Sunni University of Al-Azhar, where he had studied law, and discrimination against women. He was previously arrested for similar reasons on 2005.

He was sentenced on February 22, 2007 to three years in prison on a charge of inciting hatred of Islam and another year in prison on a charge of insulting the president. Countless protests were organised by the Free Kareem Coalition and others throughout the four years he was held. RSF awarded him its “Cyber-Freedom” prize in December 2007.

He should have been released on November 5, 2010 on completing his sentence. But he was not freed until November 15 and, during the 10 days he was held illegally, he was again subjected to physical mistreatment at the headquarters of the internal security department in Alexandria

RSF has been keeping a tally of all the abuses against journalists. Since February 2, 75 have been physically attacked and 73 have been detained for two hours or more. One journalist, Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud of Al-Ahram, has been killed.

Date posted: February 7, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 242