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Egyptian blogger faces trial for mocking Ministry of Interior

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) condemn the decision to arrest Ahmed Anwar, a video blogger, who is to be tried in front of the Tanta district court on 4 May 2013. Anwar was accused by the prosecution of insulting the minister of interior and deliberately harassing others using communication devices.

Anwar had published a video on his personal YouTube channel concerning the Ministry of Interior's (MOI) honoring of a number of male and female artists titled “The relationship between Marwa, the Ministry of Interior and deteriorating security”. In the video, he satirically criticizes the performance of the police and its inability to play its role in maintaining security.

The case dates back to the previous year when the director of the general directorate of legal affairs at the security directorate in the Gharbeyya governorate filed a complaint at the Tanta police station against Anwar because of the video he posted online. On 17 March 2013, the public prosecution ordered the arrest of Anwar and decided to bring him to trial on 27 March.

Charges against Anwar were based on article 75 of the communications law of 2003 which stipulates that if charged “a punishment of imprisonment and/or a fine no less than 20 thousand Egyptian pounds (around US$2,900) and no more than 100 thousand pounds (US$14,600)” will be be in effect as well as under article 306 of the penal code concerning slander, which defines a punishment by imposing a fine of 2000 Egyptian pounds (US$290) to 10000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,460).

ANHRI and AFTE consider that the accusations against blogger Ahmed Anwar are proof of the Egyptian authorities' hostility towards internet users. The fact that the Ministry of Interior and not a private citizen filed a lawsuit against Anwar is further evidence of the state's stance against freedom of expression. It is a desperate attempt to silence its critics and serves as evidence of the government's continued judicial persecution of activists.

Both organizations call upon the Egyptian government to put an end to its persecution of internet activists and to respect freedom of expression, which has recently been under constant threat of a government that seeks to impose silence in the public space.

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