For Immediate Release: January 23, 2012
Washington, DC – Human Rights First today welcomed the news that Egyptian activist and blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad will be released from prison. Nabil, who was sentenced to three years in prison without the presence of attorneys, will be released along with 1,900 other prisoners who had been convicted by military trial. Nabil was arrested in March for writing a blog that criticized the ruling military council. Reports indicate there are approximately 10,000 more prisoners in military custody.
“While Human Rights First is relieved that Nabil and other activists have been pardoned by the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), they never should have been held in military custody in the first place,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley. “Nabil is a civilian and was targeted by the military for peaceful expression of his views. This is a step in the right direction for the ruling military council in Egypt, but it must cease targeting, harassing, and detaining human rights activists.”
Nabil will be released following worldwide pressure and regular coverage of his case in the international media. Following raids by Egyptian military forces on several NGOs on December 29, 2011, U.S. officials began a diplomatic effort to protect Egyptian civil society. Over the weekend President Obama called Egyptian Field Marshal Tantawi to reaffirm the importance of upholding universal human rights and the role of civil society in Egypt’s democratic transition. Current law requires the U. S. Secretary of State to certify that the Government of Egypt “is implementing policies to protect the rights of journalists, due process, and freedoms of expression and association” before the U.S. releases economic assistance funds to Egypt.
Human Rights First repeatedly raised Nabil’s case with Egyptian authorities, and has called for the unconditional release of all those imprisoned in Egypt for the peaceful expression of their views. “The U. S. must continue to speak out publicly and clearly for human rights in Egypt and across the region, and urge the Egyptian government to end military trials of civilians and provide fair trials for all political prisoners,” concluded Dooley.