EGYPT: Pacifist blogger and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad to be sentenced on Sunday 10 April
The trial against Egyptian pacifist blogger and conscientious objector Maikel Nabil Sanad on charges of "insulting the military" and "obstructing public security" has today been ajourned for sentencing on Sunday, 10 April 2011, War Resisters' International's observer, conscientious objection campaigner Andreas Speck reports from Cairo.
Maikel Nabil Sanad was arrested by military police in the night of 28 March (see co-alert, 29 March 2011, and has been kept detained since. He is being tried in a fast-track trial in a military court, although he is a civilian. "According to international human rights standards, civilians should not be tried in a military court", says WRI's conscientious objection campaigner Andreas Speck. "Especially on charges of 'insulting the military', there is serious doubt that a military court can be impartial. In fact, the whole way this trial is being conducted is a clear violation of article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the right to a fair trial. Maikel Nabil Sanad has no time to prepare an effective legal defence with his lawyers, with only a few days between arrest and sentencing, which we expect to happen tomorrow. In addition, interested members of the public - such as myself, and his friends and supporters - have not been allowed to attend the trial, thus there is a clear breach of the principle of trial in public," he adds.
"Besides these shortcomings in relation to procedure, the charges themselves do not stick. Maikel Nabil Sanad only exposed the truth when he published his blog post on the role of the Egyptian military during and after the revolution. But this is probably what the military does not like, and why they are having a go at him. He showed that the military does everything but defending the revolution - it is defending the status quo. But then, you probably insult someone more by telling the truth than by spreading lies", he continues.
"However, his blog posts are protected by the right to freedom of opinion and expression. And the UN Human Rights Committee is very clear that this freedom also has to include the freedom to criticise the authorities and the military - whether they like it or not."
"The trial at this time is highly significant. Only a few days the new interim constitution of Egypt came into force, which - in theory - guarantees the freedom of opinion and expression and the freedom of the press. To sentence Maikel Nabil Sanad now would in practice mean that this constitution is not worth the paper it is written on."
"War Resisters' International calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Maikel Nabil Sanad and all those other activists arrested during and after the revolution. And we call on everyone to make their protest heard with letters to Egyptian embassies wherever they live", he adds.
Andreas Speck, War Resisters' International (in Cairo)
Mobile: +44 (0)79-7368 3936
Javier Garate, War Resisters' International (in London)
Mobile: +44 (0)78-5303 8160
War Resisters' International office
Tel +44 (0)20-7278 4040
Addresses for protest letters
Director of Military Judiciary
Major-General Ahmed Abd Allah
Military Judicial Department
Fax: +202 2 402 4468 / +202 2 411 3452 (ask for fax)
Military General Attorney
Major-General Medhat Radwan
Military Judicial Department
+202 2 412 0980 (ask for fax)
Egyptian Embassy in Britain
26 South Street, London W1K 1DW
Tel.: 020 7499 3304,
Fax: 020 7491 1542,
E-Mail Address: email@example.com
A list with contact details for Egyptian embassies is available at