Cablegate: Update On Blogger Cases - September 2009

DE RUEHEG #1836/01 2661501
R 231501Z SEP 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 001836



E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/23/2029

REF: A. CAIRO 1447
B. CAIRO 1378
C. CAIRO 1263
D. CAIRO 934
E. CAIRO 930
F. CAIRO 928
G. CAIRO 892
H. 08 CAIRO 102

Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor
Donald A. Blome for reason 1.4 (d).


-- (C) Human rights attorney Gamal Eid, who represents all of
Egypt's detained bloggers, told us September 15 he had
learned through third party sources that prison officials
have tortured jailed Coptic blogger Hany Nazir to pressure
him to convert to Islam. The prison has not allowed Eid
access to Nazir since his October 2008 arrest under the
Emergency Law.

-- (C) Eid said that the Court of Cassation has postponed a
decision until October on releasing jailed blogger Karim Amer
who was convicted of insulting Islam and Mubarak. Eid does
not trust the judges to free Amer because of their "lack of

-- (C) There has been no movement forward on the case of
jailed Sinai blogger Musad Abu Fagr, which Eid attributes to
the GOE's view of Abu Fagr as a prominent critic of the
government's Sinai policies.

-- (C) The Interior Ministry continues to hold prominent
blogger Wael Abbas' laptop, which it seized in June.

-- (C) We will continue to raise blogger cases with senior
GOE officials (refs B, G).

2. (C) Comment: Regarding Hany Nazir's allegations, claims
of GOE pressure to compel Copts to convert to Islam are
extremely rare. Furthermore, Copts detained in the prison
where Nazir is held have told us they have not suffered
religiously oriented abuse (ref H). Nazir's attorney Gamal
Eid is a credible contact, but he is our sole source of
information for the allegation. Other contacts have been
unable to verify any information, as prison officials have
severely limited Nazir's communication with the outside world
following his incarceration in October 2008. We will
continue to follow up on the Nazir case. End comment.

Hany Nazir: Allegations of Torture

3. (C) On September 15, human rights attorney Gamal Eid told
visiting NEA/ELA desk officer Aaron Pina and poloff that GOE
prison officials have been torturing detained blogger Hany
Nazir who is a Coptic Christian, in an attempt to pressure
him to convert to Islam. Eid told us he learned the
information through reliable third party sources, since the
GOE has not allowed him to visit Nazir since he was
imprisoned in October 2008 under the Emergency Law following
blog posts which were deemed offensive to Christianity and
Islam (ref E). Eid told us that he filed a legal complaint
against the Borg Al-Arab prison in Alexandria upon learning
the torture allegations.

4. (C) According to Eid, the Interior Ministry (MOI) has used
the Emergency Law to reject five court orders for Nazir's
release (ref A). On September 16, Eid's human rights
organization issued a public statement that prison officials
"assaulted" Nazir after Eid publicly asserted in August that
the officials had "pressured" Nazir to convert in exchange
for being released.

Karim Amer: Court Decision Postponed

5. (C) Eid told us the Court of Cassation (Egypt's highest
appeals court) on September 15 postponed a decision on
releasing detained blogger Karim Amer until October 20. Amer
has been in jail since October 2006, and was sentenced to
four years in prison in February 2007 for insulting Islam and
Mubarak (ref E). Eid said that although the court should
release Amer on legal grounds, he does not trust the judges
to do so because of their lack of independence. Eid issued a
press release September 16 saying that he expects the court
to release Amer in November when he will have served
three-quarters of his sentence, and therefore be legally
eligible for parole.

--------------------------------------------- ------
Musad Abu Fagr: No Progress on Sinai Blogger's Case
--------------------------------------------- ------

6. (C) According to Eid, there has been no movement forward
on the case of Musad Abu Fagr, a blogger jailed in December
2007 under the Emergency Law following his blog posts about
the Sinai Bedouin. Eid said the GOE believes Abu Fagr has
become a "symbolic" figure for critics of the government's
Sinai policies because of his blogging and activism. He
compared the GOE's targeting of Abu Fagr to its actions
against democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim (ref F) and
former opposition presidential candidate Ayman Nour (ref D).
The Interior Minister told the Ambassador in May that Abu
Fagr supported criminal activities related to Palestinians
entering Gaza (ref G).

Wael Abbas: Laptop Still Missing

7. (C) Eid told us MOI officials continue to refuse to return
prominent blogger Wael Abbas' laptop, which customs
confiscated June 30 at Cairo International Airport following
Abbas' criticism of the GOE at a conference in Sweden (refs
A, C). Eid noted that an MOI official told him September 14
that another ministry employee had taken the laptop for
personal use.

8. (U) NEA/ELA desk officer Aaron Pina cleared this cable.

© Scoop Media

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