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Lebanese blogger arrested in Egypt, deported to Beirut

(Maharat/IFEX) - Beirut, 7 September 2011 - On the morning of 5 September 2011, Lebanese blogger Imad Bazzi, who blogs on trella.org, was arrested at Cairo International Airport on arrival from Beirut. The Egyptian officials detained him for an investigation for over 10 hours before deporting him to Beirut. The blogger was able to publicise the news through messages he sent from his mobile while he was being detained.

Upon his arrival to Beirut, Bazzi told Maharat that he went to Egypt to work for the "Institution for the support, development and rehabilitation of organizations" as a consultant.

Bazzi described to Maharat how he was arrested and questioned. Apparently, "most of the questions related to an award he was recently given by 'Foreign Policy' magazine, classifying him as one of the seven most influential bloggers in the Middle East". He said that he was also interrogated about his relations with other Egyptian bloggers such as Wael Abbas and Michael Nabil, who was the first blogger to be jailed after Moubarak's regime collapsed, for insulting the Egyptian armed forces.

Bazzi had previously met Nabil in August during his work on a documentary he was producing on the Egyptian revolution.

Bazzi added that "preventing him from entering Egypt because of his opinions and thoughts is an abuse of the Egyptian revolution, democracy and human rights."

Maharat Foundation condemns this violation of freedom of expression and Bazzi's personal freedom, especially given the fact that he did not face a formal accusation. The organisation calls on the Lebanese authorities, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to protect the freedoms of Lebanese people, in particular in connection with their right to express their thoughts.
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