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Detained blogger's family harassed by authorities; another blogger jailed

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns the arrests of three bloggers - Reda Abderrahman Ali ( http://www.elaphblog.com/page.aspx?U=459&page=2 ), Mohammed Adel ( http://43arb.info/meit ) and Abdelaziz Mogahed ( http://elmogahed02.blogspot.com ) - in the past seven weeks because of what they posted online.

The press freedom organisation has just learned that Adel and Mogahed, who were arrested four weeks ago, are being held in prisons near Cairo. But Ali has been held incommunicado since his arrest on 27 October 2008 and his location is still not known.

Ali's family has not been able to see him since his arrest. "I need to know what has happened to my brother," his sister told Reporters Without Borders. "There is no law that convicts someone for their beliefs. We have written lots of letters but none has been answered. Together with my 68-year-old mother, we have been summoned by the authorities, who have harassed us and even threatened to prevent me from studying.

She said she thought Ali was being held in Cairo but the authorities have not confirmed his arrest and he has not been officially charged.

"Holding a blogger incommunicado is a new way of intimidating the Egyptian blogosphere," Reporters Without Borders said. "And it is easier to target bloggers than established journalists, who have news organisations to support them. We want to know where Ali is and what he is charged with. It is intolerable that his family has had no news of him for more than a month and a half."

Aged 32, Ali has been blogging for nearly two years. He has had a lot of problems with his employer over his blog entries. And according to his sister, he has been threatened with prosecution by Al-Azhar University because of what he has written about the Koranist movement, which believes that the practice of Islam should be based on the Koran and no other texts.

Reporters Without Borders has learned that the police arrested Adel on 20 November after searching his parents' home and confiscating books and CD-ROMs. In his blog, he expressed support for the Palestinian Islamist party Hamas and openly criticised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, accusing him of being "more concerned about the security of the Israelis than that of the Palestinian people." In his last post, on 10 November, he defended Hamas' decision to control the Gaza Strip by force.

According to the Egypt-based Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Mogahed, a fellow Hamas supporter, was arrested at the same time as Adel. They were both initially held at Nasr City prison in Cairo but then Adel was transferred to Tura prison, south of Cairo, while Mogahed was transferred to Wadi Natrun, northwest of the city.

Reporters Without Borders added: "While condemning calls for violence, we urge the Egyptian authorities to release these two bloggers, who should have the right to express their views online. The interior ministry violated the state of emergency law by holding them incommunicado and by not telling them why they were arrested."

Egypt is ranked 146th out of 173 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The state of emergency law that has been in effect for the past 26 years accords all detainees the right to know why they are being held.

Updates the Ali case: http://www.ifex.org/es/content/view/full/98873

For further information on the Adel case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/98855

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