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Academic sentenced to two years in prison over articles published abroad, threatened with loss of citizenship

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 2 August 2008, the Al Khalifa Misdemeanors' Court sentenced Dr. Saad El Din Ibrahim in absentia to two years in prison.

The case stems from a claim filed by one of the People's Council members, who is also a member of the ruling party, and by the undersecretary of the Lawyers Union-Giza against Dr. Ibrahim, the director of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Developmental Studies and a professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo. The claim alleged that he published articles with false information about Egypt abroad, damaging national security and defaming the image of Egypt. The claim also demanded his punishment in accordance with Articles 77 and 80 of the Egyptian Penal Code.

Previously, ruling party members had raised several other cases against Dr. Ibrahim, thereby sending a message to political dissidents that dissent will be met with charges of "defaming the reputation of Egypt."

Although this verdict in reality is a political ruling to repress the Egyptian opposition, it is also unlawful in more than one way. One of those unlawful aspects is that such a claim cannot be raised by incompetent and disinterested parties, while the person who raised the claim against Dr. Ibrahim is a disinterested party and not an expert in the issue.

Following the sentencing, a new legal action was filed to withdraw Egyptian nationality from Dr. Ibrahim, alleging that he has damaged the public interest and reputation of Egypt. The claimant overlooked Article 16 of Law no. 26 - year 1975 regarding Egyptian nationality, which gives a list of reasons justifying the stripping of Egyptian nationality. The reason given by the claimant - damaging the public interest and reputation of Egypt - is not among those reasons listed in the article.

ANHRI's Legal Aid Unit for Freedom of Expression rejects this verdict, which was entirely based on a report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that did not verify the validity of the accusation. The Legal Aid Unit also condemns the repression of all those who challenge the regime's policies in Egypt and denounces politically-motivated legal actions, which are like a sword hanging over the head of freedom of opinion and expression and a tool of repression the regime uses to deter dissidents.

For further information on past persecution of Saad El Din Ibrahim, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/18052

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