Amnesty International today urged Egypt’s military leadership to immediately and unconditionally release a jailed blogger after the military appeals court in Cairo ordered a retrial of his case.
Maikel Nabil Sanad, a 26-year-old blogger, is in very poor health after spending 52 days on hunger strike to protest against his imprisonment.
Amnesty International considers him to be a prisoner of conscience following his arrest and sentencing earlier this year to three years in prison for his writings about protests in Egypt and criticizing the armed forces.
“Maikel Nabil Sanad’s trial has been rife with flaws and unnecessary delays, and the decision of the appeals court for a retrial brings him back to square one, cruelly toying with his life,” said Amnesty International.
“The charges against him must be dropped and he should be released immediately and unconditionally. He should never have been tried in the first place, let alone before a military court.”
“Forcing him to face the same unfair proceedings all over again is especially cruel given the frail state of his health.”
Maikel Nabil Sanad’s retrial is due to take place before a military court on 18 October. He will remain in detention until the new court date.
In the Egyptian military court system, appeals are limited to legal points and do not include a review of the facts of the case and the evidence.
Amnesty International opposes the trial of civilians by military courts and considers these courts as fundamentally unfair, as they deprive defendants of some of the basic guarantees of fair trial, including the right to appeal.
Since protests began in Egypt at the beginning of the year, some 12,000 people have been referred to military trials.
After the blogger’s arrest at his home in Cairo on 28 March, a military court sentenced him on 10 April to three years in prison over his criticism of the Egyptian military’s use of force against protesters in Tahrir Square and his objection to military service.
His hunger strike has caused his weight to plummet and prison authorities have denied him the medication he needs to treat a heart condition.
Family members told Amnesty International that they fear for their son’s life, and had booked a space for him in the intensive care unit at Hayat Hospital, in hopes he would be set free after the latest court hearing.
But the military court has refused to release Maikel Nabil Sanad even temporarily to receive medical treatment.
Family members said he plans to maintain his hunger strike.
Life of Egyptian blogger hangs in the balance as appeal postponed (News, 4 October 2011)
Egypt blogger on hunger strike must be released as health fails (News, 26 September 2011)
Egyptian blogger in solitary confinement (Urgent action, 30 August 2011)