Egypt: Imprisoned blogger Kareem Amer must be released

Amnesty International has today called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release a blogger who the authorities continue to hold despite his completion of a four-year prison sentence.

Kareem Amer, who was jailed for criticising President Hosni Mubarak and Islam on his blog, is being held at a State Security Intelligence (SSI) detention centre in Alexandria despite being due for release on 5 November. Lawyers from the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information reported that he has been beaten and abused by State Security Intelligence (SSI) officers.

An Amnesty International spokesperson said:

“Kareem Amer has already served his sentence of four years, which in itself was handed down for actions that amounted to no more than exercising his right to freedom of expression, and yet he remains detained.

“The Egyptian authorities need to investigate allegations of beatings and other ill-treatment, and explain on what legal grounds Kareem Amer is now being detained."

Kareem Amer was beaten by a junior SSI officer who threatened him in order to stop him writing about Islam and Christians. The officer also threatened to extend Amer’s original detention sentence. Kareem had initially understood that he was being taken to the SSI office merely to complete the release papers.

In 2007 Kareem Amer was convicted of “inciting strife and defaming Muslims on the internet by describing the Prophet of Islam and his comrades as murderers, which disturbs national peace”, and “insulting the President of the Republic by writing on the internet”.

In November 2008, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention declared Kareem Amer’s detention “arbitrary” on the grounds that being arrested for online criticism and for exercising his right to freedom of expression violated freedoms guaranteed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Prison guards had previously assaulted Kareem Amer and also placed him in solitary confinement for allegedly assaulting another inmate in October 2007.

Amnesty considers Karim Amer a prisoner of conscience and continues to campaign for his release. Amnesty is also calling on President Mubarak to curb the powers of the SSI and ensure that SSI officials who breach the law or are responsible for abusing prisoners are brought to justice.

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