[QODLink]
Middle East
Egyptian blogger jailed for three years
Maikel Nabil found guilty of insulting the military and spreading false news.
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2011 14:47
Mubarak's ouster, it was thought, would usher in a new era of freedom of expression [AFP]

An Egyptian military court has jailed a blogger for three years for criticising the armed forces, ruling the country since president Hosni Mubarak''s ouster in February.

"Regrettably, the Nasr City military court sentenced Maikel Nabil to three years in prison," Gamal Eid, Nabil''s lawyer, told the AFP news agency on Monday.

"The lawyers were not present, the verdict was handed out almost in secret," he said.

Nabil was found guilty of "insulting the military" and of publishing false news.

His lawyers said they would appeal the ruling.

The verdict is likely to cause concern among Egypt's large network of bloggers who had hoped the overthrow of Mubarak in a popular uprising would usher in a new era of freedom of expression.

'Dangerous precedent'

Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week had called for the charges to be dropped.

It said Egypt's armed forces "should drop all charges against (Nabil) for his Internet posts critical of the military".

"This trial sets a dangerous precedent at a time when Egypt is trying to transition away from the abuses of the Mubarak era," Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East and North Africa director, said.

This is the first trial of a blogger by a military court since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces assumed control after Mubarak resigned on February 11 following 18 straight days of anti-regime protests.

Military police arrested Nabil, a campaigner against conscription, on March 28 after he wrote blogs criticising the military, HRW said.

His posts and comments on social networking website Facebook were used as evidence against him in the trial, HRW quoted his lawyers as saying.

Last year, a military court sentenced another blogger to six months in prison for publishing "military secrets" after he posted instructions on Facebook on how to enlist in the armed forces, his lawyers said at the time.

Another blogger was acquitted after he published a post on alleged patronage in a military academy.

The military, which has pledged to hand power to a civilian government once parliamentary and presidential elections are held, has tried and sentenced dozens of people in recent weeks for crimes such as robbery and assault.

The trials are speedy and can result in harsh sentences, rights groups say. 

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
Spirits are high in Scotland's 'Whisky Capital of the World' with one distillery thirsty for independence.
President Poroshenko arrives in Washington on Thursday with money and military aid on his mind, analysts say.
Early players in private medicine often focused on volume over quality, turning many Chinese off for-profit care.
Al Jazeera asked people across Scotland what they think about the prospect of splitting from the United Kingdom.
Blogger critical of a lack of government transparency faces defamation lawsuit from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
join our mailing list