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EGYPT: Imprisoned blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad to be sent to psychiatric hospital / trial postponed to 1 November

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  • Egypt
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Maikel Nabil SanadMaikel Nabil SanadWar Resisters' International learned today that a military court ordered on 18 October to send imprisoned pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad to a psychiatric hospital for examination. According to the information received, the blogger is presently still being held in El Marg prison, and is on hunger strike since 23 August.

Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested at the end of march on charges of violating article 184 of the Egyptian penal code, which criminalizes "insulting the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council or any State Authority, or the Army or the Courts", and article 102, "spreading false information". In a trial in front of a military court violating all established legal standards, he was sentenced to three years' imprisonment on 10 April 2011, in absence of his family, friends, or lawyers. Since then he has been kept in El Marg prison.

On 23 August, Maikel Nabil Sanad began a hunger strike in protest against his imprisonment. In a statement at the beginning of his hunger strike, he declared that his hunger strike is in protest against the severe injustice he is subjected to, namely his unfair trial in front of a military court, the slow processing of his appeal, and the difference of treatment in the cases of Asmaa Mahfouz and Louie Nagati (who had their charges dropped on 18 August 2011) and in his case.

As a result of growing pressure, the appeal hearing was finally brought forward to 4 October, but then again adjourned, because a file was missing. On 11 October, the military appeal court declared the original sentence of 10 April 2011 "null and void", but failed to release Maikel Nabil Sanad. The court instead ordered a re-trial (see co-alert, 11 October 2011).

Maikel Nabil Sanad refused to co-operate with the re-trial, and also asked his lawyers to stop any co-operation with the military court. On 18 October, a military court again heard the case of Maikel Nabil Sanad, and appointed a lawyer to represent him, who - according to one of Maikel Nabil Sanad's lawyers - was unacquainted with the case. After some initial rumours and confusion, it now seems clear that the court ordered to transfer Maikel Nabil Sanad to a psychiatric hospital "for examination". According to other, additional reports, a new trial date has been set for 1 November - which would be the 70th day of Maikel Nabil Sanad's hunger strike.

According to the information available to War Resisters' International so far, Maikel Nabil Sanad has not yet been transferred to a psychiatric hospital. However, it is to be feared that he will be sent to El Khanka mental health hospital - a hospital near Cairo notorious for the abuse of patients. "They're taking him to the hospital and will most likely just declare him insane," said Maged Hanna, one of the two lawyers on Maikel's self-appointed defence team.

War Resisters' International has serious concerns about the transfer of Maikel Nabil Sanad to El Khanka or any other psychiatric hospital. With this step, the military court effectively tries to pathologise criticism of the military and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which is a worrying new turn in the repression of dissent after the fall of Mubarak.
In addition, War Resisters' International is extremely concerned that Maikel Nabil Sanad would not just be monitored and examined, but be treated with psychopharmaca or even electric shocks to break his will, and to finally declare him "insane".

War Resisters' International calls for urgent letters of support to Maikel Nabil Sanad:
Maikel Nabil Sanad
El-Marg prison
El-Kalag
El-Khanka
Qalyubeya
Egypt
Letters to Maikel can also be sent via http://wri-irg.org/campagins/supportmaikelnabil

War Resisters' International calls for urgent letters of protest to the Egyptian authorities.

Director of Military Judiciary
Major-General Ahmed Abd Allah
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +202 2 402 4468 / +202 2 411 3452 (ask for fax)

Military General Attorney
Major-General Medhat Radwan
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
+202 2 412 0980 (ask for fax)

Minister of Defence
His Excellency Muhammad Tantawi
Ministry of Defence
Cairo, Egypt
mmc@afmic.gov.eg ; mod@afmic.gov.eg
Fax: +20 2 2 5748 822
A protest email can be sent at http://wri-irg.org/node/13819.

War Resisters' International calls on the Egyptian authorities to respond to Maikel Nabil Sanad's hunger strike and to immediately release him.

Andreas Speck
War Resisters' International