Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A Primer on Abdelkareem's Case

Abdelkareem Nabil Soliman Amer (who also goes by Kareem Amer and Abdelkareem Soliman) was arrested after being interrogated by prosecutors in Alexandria, Egypt, on November 7, 2006. Today, over two months later, his detention has been repeatedly renewed and he remains jailed without trial.

It's a bit of a mystery why the Egyptian authorities find the blog of a 22-year-old student so threatening, though the arrest clearly sends a chilling message to other Egyptian bloggers. Amer is soft-spoken and his blog had a small readership. Still he has been charged with the following alleged crimes, based entirely on his blog posts:
  • Spreading data and malicious rumors that disrupt public security
  • Defaming the President of Egypt
  • Incitement to overthrow the regime upon hatred and contempt
  • Incitement to hate "Islam" and breach of the public peace standards
  • Highlighting inappropriate aspects that harm the reputation of Egypt and spreading them to the public
To understand the larger context and some of Amer's personal story, read this International Herald Tribune editorial. This Columbia Spectator op-ed explores some of Amer's writing that appears to have gotten him in trouble.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, which has provided legal defense for Amer, has issued several press releases with details on his case, including his initial arrest, his ongoing detention, the 4th renewal of his detention, and an urgent report that Amer's life may be in danger.

Amer remains detained incommunicado at Al-Hadra prison in Alexandria, and his own family is prevented from visting him. There is growing concern that physical harm may come to Amer in prison.

The best way to follow developments in Amer's case is via the Free Kareem blog run by fellow bloggers in the Middle East.

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