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Egypt: Re-trial of blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad repeatedly postponed; serious concerns for his health.

Monday 21 November 2011 - 12:00am

RAN 18/11 Update #1 21 November 2011

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International reiterates its calls for the immediate and unconditional release of blogger and activist Maikal Nabil Sanad, who remains detained pending a re-trial for his critical online comments. Sanad is reported to have been on hunger strike for over 80 days and concerns for his health are mounting.

Mikhail Nabil Sanad, better known by the pseudonym Son of Ra, was arrested on 28 March 2011 and handed down a three-year sentence on 9 April 2011 by a military tribunal on charges of “insulting the military institution, disseminating false news and disturbing public security” for comments made on his blog in which he accused the new government of anti-democratic practices and of continuing the corruption of former president, Hosni Mubarak. The sentence helped to spark a nationwide protest against the use of military trials for civilians and led to increased fears that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was failing to live up to its promises of a post-Mubarak transition to democracy.

Sanad’s sentence was overturned by a military court on 12 October 2011, reportedly as a result of public pressure, although he has been kept in detention pending a re-trial. The re-trial has been twice postponed, on 1 and 13 November 2011, because Sanad refuses to recognize the legitimacy of a military court or to accept a court-appointed lawyer, who on 1 November 2011 ordered Sanad to be transferred to El-Khanka psychiatric hospital for examination and assessment for 45 days. His trial is now scheduled for 27 November. Sanad has reportedly been on hunger strike since 23 August 2011 in protest against his continued detention, and is said to be very weak.

In a statement released from El-Marg prison on 1 November 2011 Sanad said

“Our revolution has been in defense of freedom, justice and rights. We offered sacrifices before the revolution and after it, for enforcing the state of law. I am a civilized person; I refuse to be tried before a military judicature or any exceptional judicature, especially any judicature lacking independence. I refuse to be tried for my beliefs or my opinions”.

Useful links
A report on Sanad's refusal to stand trial and his transfer to a mental health facility
Background information and a report of Sanad's hunger strike
The original PEN International RAN report on this case

Take Action:

Protesting the continued detention of blogger and activist Maikel Nabil Sanad;
Calling for the charges to be dismissed at once and for his immediate and unconditional release;
Expressing concern over reports that Maikel Nabil Sanad’s health has deteriorated as a result of hunger strike and seeking an update on his condition as a matter of urgency;
Reminding the Egyptian authorities of their obligations to protect freedom of expression as laid out by Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory.

Director of Military Judiciary
Major-General Ahmed Abd Allah
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +202 2 402 4468 /+202 2 411 3452

Military General Attorney
Major-General Medhat Radwan
Military Judicial Department
Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +202 2 412 0980 /+202 2 412 0980

Minister of Defence
His Excellency Muhammad Tantawi
Ministry of Defence
Cairo, Egypt ;

If possible please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Egypt in your country.

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN International if sending appeals after 30 December 2011.

For further information, please contact Cathy McCann at International PEN WiPC, 50/51 Brownlow House, High Holborn, London WC1V 6ER, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0) 20740580338. Email: