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Blogger arrested and held for reporting on torture of detainees

(RSF/IFEX) - Voicing concern about increasingly repressive policies towards online dissent, Reporters Without Borders has called for the release of blogger Abdul-Moneim Mahmud, who was arrested on 14 April 2007 at Cairo airport. He has been charged with membership of an "illegal organisation" (the Muslim Brotherhood), but his arrest seems to be linked to the photos and reports about the torture of detainees that he has posted online.

"This arrest comes two months after another blogger, Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, was sentenced to four years in prison," Reporters Without Borders said. "These two young men hold very different views, but they have a common desire to denounce President Hosni Mubarak's authoritarianism and the constant human rights violations in Egypt. We hope the authorities will free them and undertake to respect the principle of the free flow of information online."

The state prosecutor's office in Shoubra Al-Khaima ordered that Mahmud should be held for at least two weeks while he is investigated for alleged membership and financing of an illegal movement. Many local sources say he has in fact been targeted for reporting arbitrary arrests and acts of torture by the security services on his blog, Ana Ikhwan ( http://www.ana-ikhwan.blogspot.com ), and on the Muslim Brotherhood's website ( http://www.ikhwanweb.info ).

Mahmud covered demonstrations organised by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and circulated photos of police brutality on the Internet. Aged 27 and a journalism graduate of Cairo University, he is also a contributor to the satellite TV station Al-Hiwar (The Dialogue).

Suleiman, who is better known by his blogger pseudonym of "Kareem Amer," was arrested on 6 November 2006 because of articles he had posted on his blog ( http://www.karam903.blogspot.com ), in which he often condemned the government's authoritarian excesses and criticised Egypt's highest religious institutions, especially the Sunni university of Al-Azhar, where he studied law. He was sentenced on 22 February to three years in prison for "inciting hatred of Islam" and one year for "insulting" the president.

Egypt is on the Reporters Without Borders list of "13 Internet Enemies": http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=19603

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