AN EGYPTIAN military court yesterday met in closed session and sentenced blogger Maikel Nabil to three years’ imprisonment for “insulting” the military high command that has been in charge of the country since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak two months ago.
The accusation was based on a blog titled “The army and the people were never one hand”, which contradicted a slogan affirming the unity of army and people that was adopted during the uprising. It also accused the army of torturing detained protesters.
Following the sentencing, Wael Abbas, a leader of the uprising, tweeted: “Egypt will never be safe for bloggers.”
The verdict has alarmed bloggers and Facebook activists, and raised concerns that freedom of the press, much hoped for after Mr Mubarak’s fall, might not now be guaranteed.
The sentence was handed down the day after the military-led go- vernment decreed that new newspapers no longer needed to register with the security apparatus, a major demand of the democracy movement. During the Mubarak era, newspapers were strictly regulated and output was censored.
Activists have welcomed deregulation of the press in the expectation that emerging political parties would establish new newspapers ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections.
However, the sentencing of Mr Nabil creates a climate of uncertainty over what may or may not be written.