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Court rejects judge's case against ANHRI and two bloggers

(ANHRI/IFEX) - On 31 December 2008, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre welcomed a historic decision by the Dokki Court of Misdemeanors.

The court announced its decision to dismiss the charges against two young bloggers, Manal Bahi and Alaa Abdel Fatah, as well as ANHRI director and human rights lawyer Gamal Eid, who had been implicated in a fabricated case of libel and defamation.

Abdel Fatah Murad, a judge who originally brought the charges against the defendants, confessed that he had copied a report from ANHRI's website, published and sold it - a form of plagiarism. The judge fabricated the libel and defamation case against the three men in April 2007 after the first session of a case which he had brought demanding the blocking of 49 websites. Two Hisbah lawyers [lawyers practising Sharia law] who wanted to punish the bloggers and ANHRI for their support of blogger Karim Amer advocated on Murad's behalf. The trial lasted for several sessions and ended on 31 December with a full acquittal of all the defendants.

The acquittal was a gift from the Egyptian judicial system to all defenders of freedom of expression in Egypt, similar to the one granted at the end of 2007 when the courts rejected Murad's request to block 49 websites that had published the news of his plagiarism. As a result of that decision, the judge fabricated the spurious defamation cases. The Egyptian judiciary's rejection of these fabrications and acquittal of the defendants is a triumph of justice.

Reacting to the news, Fatah stated: "Despite our happiness with a verdict which restores the order of things, we are still worried about numerous other cases which target defenders of freedom of expression and the right to the free circulation of information. The enemies of freedom of expression are still chasing activists, bloggers and journalists and persecuting them in the courts in an effort to intimidate them."

Updates the Bahi, Fatah and Eid case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/89371

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