London, 26 January 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
EGYPT: War Resisters' International welcomes the overdue release in Cairo of pacifist blogger Maikel Nabil
Maikel Nabil Sanad after his 302 days of an unjust detention aiming to suppress criticism of the Egyptian military. Detained on 29 March, Maikel was sentenced in April by a military court to three years' imprisonment for insulting the People’s Assembly, the Shura Council or any State Authority, or the Army or the Courts", and article 102, "spreading false information". This verdict was annulled but a new trial in December, also in front of a military court, sentenced Maikel to two years.
His release was announced on Saturday 21 January and finally took place on 24 January 2012. It was part of a more general pardon, marking the first anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution with the release of nearly 2000 other prisoners convicted by military courts in the last year. In a post-release statement posted on YouTube and on the WRI web page Maikel himself, like most - if not all - of the other released prisoners, reject this "pardon". Their detention violated their right to freedom of expression, and in the case of those criticising the military authorities, served to prove their point - that the Egyptian army continues to abuse its power even after the revolution.
Maikel was one of the first to criticise the Egyptian army after the revolution and to be arrested. In prison, he began a hunger strike on 23 August, taking only juice and milk, in protest at the unfair trial by a military court, the slow processing of his appeal, and the difference in treatment between his and other cases.
War Resisters' International have been in touch with Maikel since 2010 when he informed us of his conscientious objection. In November 2010 his public refusal to do military service attracted the attention of Egyptian military intelligence who detained him for two days before issuing exemption papers. In February 2011, during the protests, Maikel was again detained for two days by the military police.
War Resisters' International considers that Maikel Nabil did not commit any crime. Instead of being pardoned, his trial and his sentence should be declared null and void, and Maikel himself should bear no legal consequences whatsoever for exercising his right to freedom of thought, opinion and belief. We hope that henceforth this freedom will be guaranteed both for Maikel and for all Egyptians, but this can only come about by ending military rule. Maikel's case confirms that military rule stands in contradiction to freedom and human rights, and we call the Supreme Council of Armed Forces to hand over all authority to civilians without further delay.
We also call on the newly formed Parliament, as a place where different ideas should be debated, to promote an open dialogue on all topics in the Egyptian society, including open the questioning of violence and the investigation of where the responsibility lies for abuse of power.