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Cablegate: Egyptian Court Rejects Legal Attack On Blogs

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OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0007 0021608
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021608Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7831
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS CAIRO 000007

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
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NSC STAFF FOR PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO PHUM PGOV EG
SUBJECT: EGYPTIAN COURT REJECTS LEGAL ATTACK ON BLOGS

REF: A. CAIRO 1487
B. CAIRO 489

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1. (U) On December 29, the Cairo Administrative Judicial
Court dismissed a lawsuit aimed at shutting down 51 websites
belonging to Egyptian human rights organizations, opposition
groups and individual bloggers. As a legal basis for its
ruling, the Cairo court cited Article 19 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, along with Articles 47 and 48 of
Egypt's Constitution. (Note: Article 19 of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights reads as follows: Everyone has
the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right
includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to
seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any
media and regardless of frontiers. End note.)

2. (SBU) A senior judge in Alexandria, Abdel Fatah Murad,
filed the lawsuit in May 2007, apparently in a personal
capacity (ref A). Murad reportedly was angered by blog
entries and a subsequent lawsuit accusing him of plagiarizing
portions of a legal text he wrote. Murad could appeal the
court's ruling.

3. (SBU) Bloggers and human rights groups responded quickly
and positively to the ruling. Well known Egyptian blogger
"Sandmonkey" called the ruling a "victory for freedom of
speech." The Hisham Mubarak Law Center, a human rights
organization whose website was targeted by the lawsuit,
immediately issued a statement labeling the ruling a "gift"
from Egypt's judiciary to the "cause of freedom of
expression." One of the group's lawyers told us that he was
especially gratified - and surprised - that the Cairo court
was willing to rule against a fellow judge. He also noted
the court's reliance on the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and said that, as far as he knew, this is the first
time an Egyptian court has used international human rights
law to justify a ruling. A self-described apolitical blogger
whose site was also a target of the lawsuit told us that
while the lawsuit had scared her, she now is optimistic about
the future of Egypt's blogging community.

4. (SBU) One blogger from Alexandria reminded us that this
ruling does nothing to address the conviction and
imprisonment of fellow blogger Abdel Karim Nabil Soliman,
currently serving a four-year prison sentence for allegedly
offensive web postings (ref B). Nonetheless, while Egyptian
bloggers and journalists face pressures from the government,
it is difficult to interpret the court's decision in this
case as anything but a victory for freedom of expression.
Ricciardone

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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