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Middle East
Egypt activist charged with inciting violence
Asmaa Mahfouz released from court on bail pending trial for "insulting military rulers and calling for armed operation".
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2011 20:19
Many pro-democracy protesters in Egypt have been rallying to voice their anger and frustration [Reuters]

Egypt's military prosecutors have charged a prominent activist with insulting the country's military rulers and calling for armed operations against the military and the judiciary, lawyers said.

Prosecutors briefly detained 26-year-old activist and blogger Asmaa Mahfouz on Sunday for questioning on charges of defaming the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) on social media networks.

Mahfouz was accused of using her Facebook page to call for the assassinations of SCAF members and certain judges, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported.

"If the judiciary doesn't give us our rights, nobody should be surprised if militant groups appear and conduct a series of assassinations because there is no law and there is no judiciary," Mahfouz wrote on Facebook, according to MENA.

Mahfouz was released on $3,355 bail, Noor Ayman Nour, an activist with the "No Military Trials for Civilians group", said on Sunday, from outside the military prosecution's office in Cairo.

Shortly after speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, an Egyptian news website, Nour was also detained by military police but later released.

Lawyer Ali Atef said prosecutors ordered Mahfouz to pay the fine or face 15 days in jail pending the setting of a date for her trial. If convicted, she could face up to three years in jail.

'I am not scared'

Witnesses said dozens of activists demonstrated outside the prosecutor's office after Mahfouz's questioning, chanting "down, down with the rule of the military".

Following her release, Asmaa told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the interrogation lasted for three hours, and that she had denied all the charges against her.

"There is no truth in these accusations, I was only warning the military council that the absence of justice will lead to chaos."

Asmaa added: "I am not scared, I will not be silenced, and I will continue to take to the streets and criticise any wrong doing that I see."

'Incitement to violence'

General Adelal-Morsy, head of the Military Justice Commission, issued a statement saying Mahfouz's Facebook post was not a matter of freedom of expression, but rather an incitement to violence and an insult to both the army and SCAF.

The statement called on the media and the public to check Mahfouz's Facebook account to judge whether she was giving an opinion or calling for the formation of armed groups to conduct assassinations.

Mahfouz's supporters on the microblogging website Twitter argued that her post warned of the negative consequences of not trying former regime members in a serious manner.

She wrote on her Twitter account on Saturday that she was requested to appear before the military prosecution.

She suggested that she might be under investigation because of a phone interview she gave to Al Jazeera on July 23 during clashes between pro-revolution protesters and residents of Abbasseya, a Cairo neighbourhood.

Hundreds of protesters were injured during a march to the SCAF headquarters to urge the ruling council to speed up reforms.

"We are against the corruption of SCAF, which covers for Mubarak and his aides," Mahfouz told Al Jazeera.

During the clashes, Mahfouz also told Al Jazeera that the "army protected the thugs" by cordoning off the protesters before they were attacked.

Civilians tried in military courts

She added that the march was to protest against SCAF's corruption, and their hesitation in speeding up the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Mubarak made his first court appearance on August 3 on charges of involvement in the killing of demonstrators during the 18-day Egyptian uprising. His trial is set to resume on August 15.

The military has previously brought activists in for investigation in response to public statements on television.
In May, activist Hossam al-Hamalawy was summoned by the military prosecutor due to his on-air criticism against SCAF.

He accused Egypt's military rulers of attacking civilian protesters and referring them to military trials.

In April, blogger Maikel Nabil, received a three-year prison sentence by a military court after he documented various violations by the military against civilian protesters.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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