Egypt: Media crackdown continues as Index award winner arrested

Amid the constant Egyptian government promises these days that it is committed to reform, growth and dialogue with all opposition forces, it’s worth noting that the campaign of harassment, detention and arrest of activists and journalists has never actually stopped.

On Sunday, Ayman Mohieldin, a journalist with Al-Jazeera English spent at least six hours bound and blindfolded before finally being released.

Monday brought the news that blogger and activist Kareem Amer had been arrested along with documentary filmmaker Samir Eshra.

Amer’s detention is particularly poignant since the 26-year old had already spent four years in jail for his online writings — which bluntly stated his atheist beliefs. Amer won the Hugo Young Award for Journalism at the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression awards in 2007. He was released in November of last year.

Egyptian blogger released after four years in jail

Kareem Amer Online free expression activists around the world are rejoicing at the news that jailed Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer has been freed and had returned to his family’s Alexandria home. Amer won the Hugo Young Award for Journalism at the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression awards in 2007.

Amer’s four-year jail sentence actually ended on 5 November, but the Egyptian authorities held on to him for nearly two weeks extra — prompting protests from Amnesty International and others. The Egyptian government — which grants itself sweeping powers under the so-called “emergency laws”— has a history of acting in defiance of its own judiciary. This includes openly ignoring court-ordered releases, or releasing a suspect and then immediately re-arresting him.

So the delay in Amer’s release had supporters worried that the police would simply keep him indefinitely.

Amer was sentenced to four years in prison in 2007, having already served two years in custody, for a package of charges that include insulting Islam, encouraging sedition and defaming President Hosni Mubarak.

His crimes: a series of blog posts that bluntly expressed his atheist beliefs and his criticism of the state of Islamic discourse. His case has already prompted a long-running solidarity campaign by supporters who consider him a “political prisoner”“, guilty of nothing more than thought crime.

Amer has made no public statements since his release. According his supporters, he has requested a bit of quiet and privacy with his family. It remains to be seen whether he will renew his writings, or whether the Egyptian police — particularly the notorious Alexandria contingent — will leave him alone.

Egypt: Blogger beaten and held beyond release date

Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, better known by his blogging name, Kareem Amer, was due to be freed on 5 November after completing a four-year jail sentence for criticising the government. Instead, he has been held illegally for the past five days, and has reportedly received a severe beating from an official at the headquarters of the internal security department in Alexandria. During his sentence, Amer’s letters have chronicled episodes of solitary confinement and torture.