Reporters Without Borders condemns blogger Ahmed Hassan Basiouny’s trial by court martial, which is scheduled to take place tomorrow, and calls for the immediate withdrawal of the charges against him. He is the second blogger to face a court martial in Egypt.
Basiouny is being prosecuted for creating a Facebook page in 2009 that offered advice and information to young people thinking of enlisting in the Egyptian army. He is charged under articles 80 1/2 and 85/3 of the criminal code and article 5/B of the military justice code with disseminating defence secrets online and “disclosing information about the Egyptian armed forces.”
Reporters Without Borders has learned that Basiouny was a recent guest on “Youth Panorama,” a programme broadcast live by the state-owned radio station Al-Shabah Wal-Reyada (Youth and Sport). He was asked to talk about the Facebook group he had created and was described by the station as “a good model for Egyptian youth.”
It was a few days after his appearance on the programme that he was summoned for questioning by the military police bureau of investigation. He was then briefly detained until a decision was taken to try him before a military court.
The first blogger to appear before a court martial was the young student Ahmed Abdel Fattah Mustafa. That was on 1 March, after he had been held incommunicado for several days for posting an article about a case of favouritism in a military academy on his blog Maza Asabak ya Watan (“What has happened to my country”) in 2009.
Charged with defaming the Egyptian armed forces, “trying to undermine the public’s confidence in the armed forces” and publishing false information, he was release on 7 March after posting an apology on his blog (read the article).
Reporters Without Borders has included Egypt on its list of “Enemies of the Internet” above all because of the way it harasses and prosecutes bloggers (http://en.rsf.org/internet-enemie-egypt,36679.html).
When the blogger Kareem Amer was released earlier this week, Reporters Without Borders urged the government to use the occasion to restart its relations with the country’s netizen community. The Basiouny case is a new test for online free expression in Egypt.
Ahmed Hassan Basiouny's Facebook page