"It's a dangerous precedent because it will impact the only free space available now, which is the Internet"
Sandmonkey, Egyptian blogger
Rights groups and opposition bloggers have watched Suleiman's case closely, and worried the conviction could set a legal precedent limiting internet freedom in Egypt, the Arab world's most populous country.
A blogger attending the trial who goes by the name "Sandmonkey" said: "It's a dangerous precedent because it will impact the only free space available now, which is the internet. The charges were undefined and vague."
Human Rights Watch condemned the trial, saying that the charges Suleiman was convicted for "contradict guarantees of free expression under international law".
Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said: "The Egyptian government should abide by its commitments to uphold free expression and release Suleiman without delay."
Criticism or insult?
Suleiman, a Muslim and a liberal, has not denied writing the articles, but said they merely represented his own views.
One of his articles said that al-Azhar in Cairo, one of the most prominent seats of Sunni Muslim learning, was promoting extreme ideas. Another article, headlined "The Naked Truth of Islam as I Saw it", accused Muslims of savagery during clashes between Muslims and Christians in Alexandria in 2005.
Suleiman has also denounced Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president, likening him to the dictatorial pharaohs who ruled ancient Egypt.
Though legally unrelated, both Suleiman and Abu Omar's cases highlight the threat to freedom of expression in Egypt.
|Abu Omar says he expects to be arrested again|
for speaking to reporters [EPA]
Abu Omar stated fears that Egyptian security services would arrest him for speaking out, saying at the court in Alexandria: "I could be arrested the moment I leave here.
"I don't want trouble with anyone any more. My body cannot bear any more prison and torture."
His torture allegations could fuel the controversy over the first criminal case involving the CIA's extraordinary rendition programme, in which the US authorities secretly transferred "terror" suspects for interrogation to third countries where critics say they faced torture.
Italian prosecutors say Abu Omar was kidnapped from the streets of Milan in February 2003 by CIA agents with help from Italian agents.
Last week, Italy indicted 25 American CIA agents and a US air force lieutenant colonel, along with five Italian agents, for the alleged kidnapping.
After his abduction, Abu Omar was allegedly taken to Aviano air base near Venice, Ramstein air base in southern Germany, and then to Egypt for interrogation.
He was held for four years, until he was freed by an Egyptian court that ruled his detention was "unfounded".
In Alexandria on Thursday, Abu Omar said he was innocent and wanted to return to Italy, where he was granted political asylum in 2001.