Egyptian pacifist Maikel Nabil Sanad sentenced to three years' imprisonment for insulting the military

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Family and friends told trial was postponed / grave violation of human rights

The trial against Egyptian pacifist Maikel Nabil Sanad, who was arrested on 28 March 2011, and who appeared in front of the military court in Nasr City in Cairo on charges of "insulting the military by publishing false news about it" and "obstructing public security", came to a close on Sunday, 10 April 2011, with a sentence of three years' imprisonment. In an outrageous move by the military, family and friends waiting in front of the military court were told the trial was postponed, while in fact Maikel Nabil Sanad was being sentenced at the same time - alone.

War Resisters' International, the international network of pacifist and antimilitarist organisations with more than 80 affiliates in more than 40 countries, condemns the sentence against Egyptian pacifist and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad, 25, from Cairo [1]. According to information received by War Resisters' International, Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested in his home in the Ain Shams neighbourhood if Cairo at about 10pm on 28 March 2011 by military police. He was only able to call his brother on the next day, to inform him of his arrest.

Maikel Nabil Sanad is a political activist and blogger, and in April 2009 he founded the "No to Compulsory Military Service Movement" [2]. As a pacifist, he declared his conscientious objection [3], and demanded to be exempted from military service. He was arrested on 12 November 2010, also by military police, but released two days later, and finally exempted from military service on medical grounds [4].

Maikel Nabil Sanad participated actively in the Egyptian revolution, and especially highlighted the fact that Egypt has effectively been ruled by the military for six decades. He was arrested on 4 February by military police and tortured, but released 27 hours later [5].

Andreas Speck, conscientious objection campaigning worker at War Resisters' International, who visited Cairo from 2 to 7 April 2011 to attend Maikel Nabil Sanad's trial but was refused to attend, states: "His pacifist beliefs have brought Maikel Nabil Sanad into confrontation with the military before. This time, it seems they are especially after him because of a lengthy document he wrote highlighting and criticising the role of the military during the revolution [6]. Maikel Nabil Sanad was trying to deconstruct the myth that the army stands and stood with the people of Egypt during the revolution, based on information publicly available on the internet. Instead, so he shows in his document, the army actively arrested and tortured opposition activists, and this continues to this day. Sadly, his own arrest only proves his point."

"In publishing on his blog, Maikel Nabil Sanad made use of his right to freedom of opinion and expression, as enshrined in Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party", Andreas Speck continues. "His arrest is a violation of Article 19, and of Article 14, the right to a fair trial, as under the conditions of his arrest he was unable to conduct a proper defence. And even more worryingly, he was denied a public trial - and the fact that his family was lied to on the day of his sentencing is plain outrageous, and not a good start for the 'new Egypt'."

"To try a civilian in a military court is against all international human rights standard. A military court does not have jurisdiction over civilians, and if the authorities want to put Maikel Nabil Sanad on trial - for which there is no reason whatsoever - they should do so in front of a civilian criminal court."

"War Resisters' International calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Maikel Nabil Sanad and all those other activists arrested during and after the revolution. And we call on everyone to make their protest heard with letters to Egyptian embassies wherever they live [7]", he adds.

Ends

Contact:
Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International
Tel: +44 (0)20-7278 4040
Mobile: +44 (0)79-7368 3936

Email: info@wri-irg.org
Notes for journalists

[1] More information on Maikel Nabil Sanad is available at http://wri-irg.org/node/11403. His own blog - with texts in Arabic and English - is available at http://maikelnabil.com.
[2] In Egypt, military service is compulsory for all men. More information on military service in Egypt is available at http://wri-irg.org/programmes/world_survey/country_report/en/Egypt.
[3] See his statement "I Would Not Serve in the Egyptian Army and I Bear the Consequences", 20 October 2010, http://wri-irg.org/node/11404.
[4] See http://wri-irg.org/node/11673.
[5] Maikel Nabil Sanad wrote about his experience a few days later. The text is available at http://wri-irg.org/node/12204.
[6] This document can be read (in English) at http://wri-irg.org/node/12484.
[7] A co-alert by War Resisters' International is available at http://wri-irg.org/node/12733.

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Related peace activist(s): Maikel Nabil Sanad