The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) and the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemn the decision to arrest Ahmed Anwar, a video blogger, to be tried in front of Tanta partial court on the 4th of May in case no. 5975/2013 Tanta misdemeanors. Anwar was accused by the prosecution of insulting the minister of interior and deliberate harassment of others using communication techniques.
Anwar had published a video on his personal YouTube channel concerning the MOI’s honoring of a number of male and female artists, titled “Relation of Artist Marwa with the MOI and Lack of Security”. In that video he satirically criticizes the performance of the police and its inability to play its role in maintaining security.
The case dates back to the previous year when the director of the general directorate of legal affairs at the security directorate in Gharbeyya governorate filed a complaint no. 4502/2012 at the Tanta police station against Anwar because of a video he published on his personal YouTube channel and facebook. On the 17th of March 2013 the public prosecution ordered the arrest of Anwar and decided to bring him to trial on the 27th of March 2013.
Charges against Anwar are based on article 75 of the law no. 10/2003 organizing communications, which stipulates “a punishment of imprisonment and/or a fine no less than 20 thousand pounds and no more than 100 thousand pounds” as well as article 306 of the penal code concerning slander, which defines a punishment by 2000 – 10000 LE fine.
AFTE and ANHRI consider that the accusation of blogger Ahmed Anwar and his trial in view of his exercise of his right to freedom of expression via the internet is yet another evidence of the Egyptian authorities’ hostility and violations against internet users, in a desperate attempt to silence its critics, especially that the charges against Anwar were not made by a the ministry of interior, i.e. a governmental body and not individuals, as in previous cases, where the government could claim it did not incite the charges. The case against Anwar is new evidence of the government’s hostility to freedom of expression and its continued judicial persecution of activists.
Both organizations call upon the Egyptian government to put an end to its persecution of internet activists and to respect freedom of expression, recently under constant threat of a government that seeks to impose silence in the public space.
Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information