Reporters Without Borders condemns well-known Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas’s arrest on “national security” grounds at Cairo airport on 29 June on his return from Sweden, where he openly criticised the Egyptian government at a conference in the presence of members of Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party. He spent the entire day at the airport before being able to leave.
“Wael Abbas’s arrest is an insult to free expression, which he symbolises in Egypt,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Egyptian blogosphere regards him as a key figure in the country’s society. This is yet another example of the government’s constant harassment of human rights activists. We demand the return of everything the customs police took from him.”
After being detained by the airport customs police, Abbas was subjected to a body search, his personal possessions were examined, some of his documents were photocopied and files relating to the conference in Sweden were confiscated. The authorities held on to his passport for four hours and still have not returned his computer.
Abbas became well known in Egypt in January 2007 when he posted a video on his blog that showed a young Egyptian being mistreated by police officers while in their custody. It resulted in two policemen being giving three-year jail sentences.
Egypt is on the Reporters Without Borders list of “Enemies of the Internet.”