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Journalists, judges under martial investigation for criticising military council

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo 31 May 2011 - ANHRI severely condemns the ongoing policy of the military council in suppressing freedom of expression and spreading fear among journalists, media workers and judges. A number of people are being investigated for criticizing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces or discussing its practices in the media. The military council has been ruling Egypt since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled. Under the council's current political role, it is bound to accept all types of criticism, having repeatedly declared its support for freedom of expression.

As of 31 May, the following people are under martial investigation: broadcaster Rim Maged, leftist blogger Hosam El Hamlawi, journalist Nabil Sharaf El Din, "Al Wafd" editor-in-chief Sayed Abdel Ati, and journalist Hossam El Swefi in Nasr City, Cairo.

In addition, three eminent judges - Counselor Hassan El Naggar, president of the Zagazig Judges Club; Alaa Shawky, head of the Giza Court of Assizes; and Ashraf Nada, head of the Beni Suef Appellate Court - are being investigated for criticizing the martial courts against civilians and urging judicial reform in comments made to the media.

On 26 May, blogger El Hamlawi appeared on the "Baladna bel masry" show, presented by Rim Maged, and demanded that military police be investigated for violating detainees' rights and that General Hamdy Badin, as the head of the military police, be held responsible for these violations.

Nabil Sharaf el Din said during a TV interview that he believed an agreement between the Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood Group had taken place. This belief was echoed by the "Al Wafd" journalists. General Mamdouh Shahin, Deputy Minister of Defense and a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, denied this allegation on a call to the station, during which he indicated that Nabil Sharaf El Din could be prosecuted. The journalist condemned the threat, which was uttered by the general before he was actually summoned for an investigation.

"Once again we reiterate that the Egyptian revolution broke out to fight against oppression and the suppression of freedom of expression. Nobody is above criticism, not even the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. The council mistakenly believes that it is on the right track by continuing to suppress all critical voices . . . It knows full well that military forces have tortured protesters and that many girls have been forced to undergo virginity checks, not to mention the unjust martial courts against thousands of civilians. Would the military council prefer that these suppressive measures not be criticized? This is not possible as human rights violations will not be ignored in Egypt after the 25 January Revolution," ANHRI said.
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