Egyptian blogger to be released on the 5th of November?
In February 2007, Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Soliman was convicted of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak and sentenced to four years in prison, after being held for months without charge. This November, Soliman, better known as Kareem Amer, or just Kareem, will have completed his prison sentence. According to Freekareem.org, the website of the Free Kareem Coalition, his lawyers note that he would be released on the 5th of November.
However, Freekareem.org states that there are reasons to believe that Kareem may not be released on this date. The Coalition also fears that he might be tortured nearing the date of his release. Given Egypt’s less than impressive record when it comes to human rights and freedom of speech, I certainly share these fears. While article 47 of the Egyptian Constitution is supposed to guarantee free expression, bloggers, journalists and activists still risk prison and torture for exercising this right.
While Kareem was the first Egyptian blogger who was imprisoned for expressing himself on the Internet, he is far from the only one. He is, however, arguably the best known one. Sadly, it is hard to say how this will affect the probability of him being released on time. The Egyptian authorities might find it hard to keep a well-known prisoner of conscience past his release date, in the face of international protests. On the other hand, the authorities have so far seemed very keen to make an example of Kareem, and use his case to intimidate other bloggers and journalists who might otherwise be bold enough to speak freely on issues like religion or the president.
To help the Egyptian authorities make up their minds and finally do the decent thing, please sign Amnesty International USA’s petition calling for the immediate release of Kareem Amer.
UPDATE: After 1460 days in prison, Kareem has officially completed his prison sentence. Unfortunately, he has still not been released. More news will follow as soon as i learn more about Kareem’s status and how we can support him.