- The Alexandria Appeals Court ruled against an appeal filed by the attorney of Egypt's first convicted blogger, Abdel Kareem Suleiman, who was sentenced to four years in prison for "insulting Islam and the President of Egypt". His lawyers said they would appeal the judgment at the court of cessation.
The Alexandria court upheld the ruling, although the defence team vigorously argued that it is unlawful for a first degree court to pass the sentence.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (HRinfo) said the verdict is "unexpected" because it sets back freedom of expression in the country and violates of International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights, which Egypt has ratified. It is also seen as a betrayal of a promise by President Hosni Mubarak that his regime would not imprison any writer for merely expressing his or her opinions.
The defence lawyers - Hesham Mubarak Centre for Law, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Hamdi Al-Assiouti - blamed the court for relying on amended penal code articles. In its argument, the defence saw an "insult to the President" as a permissible criticism.
Though it was rejected by the first degree court, the Appeals Court surprisingly maintained a Hisba case, an Islamic tradition to have civil suits raised by individuals who have no relation to the main case. "The Hisba is considered a threat to all opinion holders," HRinfo said in a statement.
The defence team said the court's decision confirms the deteriorated state of human rights, especially freedom of expression, in Egypt. The team confirmed that they will be taking the case to the court of cessation.
The team and organisations defending freedom of expression confirmed their commitment to continue supporting Kareem Amer and all opinion holders, continuing the battle to lift all restrictions on freedom of expression.
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