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Rights group urges Egypt military prosecutors to release blogger

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Tuesday called on Egypt's military prosecutors to release Alaa Abd El Fattah [blog; Twitter feed], a blogger and activist who engaged in protests and accused the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder] of committing abuses, such as using military trials for civilians. He was charged with incitement and theft of a military weapon in connection with a demonstration at Maspero last month, which resulted in 27 deaths and more than 300 civilian injuries. The prosecutors on Sunday extended detention of Abd El Fattah for another 15 days. HRW urged the prosecutors to release him because of lack of evidence [HRW report] supporting the charges and the excessive force used by the military against civilians during the demonstration.

The military government has no business prosecuting Abdel Fattah, or any other civilian, in a military court, much less in a case involving the military's own unlawful violence against protesters. These charges presented without evidence against one of the country's best known activists are further reflection of the military's desire to silence its critics.
In addition to the call for Abd El Fattah's release, HRW criticized the military's concealment as to whether military officers are also being investigated related to the Maspero case and its rejection of any responsibility for the death of civilians during the demonstration despite of witness testimonies and a report [text, in Arabic] by the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) [advocacy website] alleging to the contrary.

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] last week expressed [JURIST report] in its briefing notes [text] concerns of Egypt's limitation for freedom of expression and association calling for release of Abd El Fattah who merely exercised his fundamental right to free speech. Earlier this month, the Egyptian activist group No Military Trials for for Civilians [Al Jazeera profile] condemned [statement, text] Abd El Fattah's arrest and imprisonment. The blogger and activist was initially imprisoned [JURIST report] for the charges [Bikay Masr report] last month.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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