24 March, 2014
PEN welcomes the conditional release of blogger and political activist Alaa Abd El Fattah after 115 days in prison
PEN International welcomes the conditional release of blogger and political activist Alaa Abd El Fattah. Alaa Abd El Fattah, arrested on 28 November 2013, was released on bail pending trial on 23 March 2014 having spent 115 days in prison for his criticism of repressive state practices and advocacy for freedom of information. Charged with involvement in an unsanctioned protest, Alaa Abd El Fattah’s arrest follows a crackdown in dissent in which dozens of activists and political organisers have been sent to prison.
An advocate for freedom of expression, Alaa Abd El Fattah became one of the first Egyptian netizens facilitating a movement for political change. Following the 25 January 2011 uprising, he started a nation-wide people’s initiative enabling citizen collaboration in the drafting of the Egyptian Constitution.
His widely read blog — established with his wife, Manal—helped spark a community of bloggers in the Arab World committed to the promotion of free speech and human rights. It won the Reporters Without Borders award at the 2005 Bobs. Their groundbreaking website, Omraneya, collected blog entries across the Arab World, archiving dissent in the face of repression, and became a platform for oppressed voices and alternative expression.
Following the 2011 uprising he initiated and hosted Tweet-Nadwas (“Tweet-Symposiums”), that brought activists and bloggers from across the world into Tahrir Square, to participate in open format dialogue about tough issues ranging from Islamism to Economic Reform.
(Alaa Abdel Fattah greets his friends, family and supporters outside the police station following his release. Video by Mahmoud Salmani)
To read PEN’s previous Joint Statement on this case, click here.