A slap in the face for free speech in Egypt - and some backtracking on rendition in Westminster
One year ago, 23-year-old Egyptian blogger Karim Amer was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for the "crime" of blog entries (at Karam93.blogspot) that was said to be critical of Islam and Egypts President Mubarak. Yet another slap in the face for freedom of expression in Egypt is how we described his sentence at the time.
In letters to one of his legal counsels Karim has since described how he was beaten in prison last October. He was punched and kicked by a prisoner and a prison guard under the supervision of a prison investigations officer. One of his teeth was broken and he was badly bruised. He was then taken to a disciplinary cell, hand-cuffed and his legs tied up and beaten again by the same two people on the officers orders.
He also wrote that another prisoner unknown to him was brought to the cell, stripped naked and beaten by the same individuals in his presence. He was then threatened that he would receive the same treatment if he intervened again in the prisons affairs. Karim said he advised Eritreans in the prison to keep their money after he had discovered that one Eritrean cell-mate to whom he serves as an interpreter lost 100 US dollars. All for writing a blog.
Were asking people to write to the President demanding Karims release and asking bloggers to keep publicising the case theres some good info on threats to bloggers worldwide here.
Elsewhere, David Miliband has fessed up that the UK was involved in the US renditions programme, apologising for not telling parliament that two US rendition flights those used to kidnap people and ship them off for torture in third countries refuelled in UK territory at Diego Garcia. Good that hes said it, but really its too little, too late. If we were misled the first time, should we really believe that UK involvement begins and ends with those two flights? More information please, Foreign Secretary.
And finallyfootball. The Chechen capital of Grozny has a spanking new football stadium and the team has been promoted to Russias Premier league, says the Times. But the other teams wont play there as they still feel its too dangerous - which perhaps undermines the governments line that all is well in Chechnya.
Im being a bit braver and heading to Leyton Orient this weekend, hopefully to watch my beloved Nottingham Forest pressure a promotion spot in League One. If Junior Agogo can reproduce his form for Ghana in the African Nations Cup, they wont know whats hit em.
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