Amnesty criticises Egypt over rights lawyers, blogger
Amnesty International criticised on Wednesday Egypt's use of a
defamation law to pursue three activists for slander and blackmail after
they allegedly accused a judge of plagiarism. "We fear that these
latest charges are a further attempt to intimidate independent human
rights organizations, which are already subject to severe restrictions,
including state-security vetted registration and tight government rules
on foreign funding," the London-based rights group said.
The trial of two human rights advocates and a blogger for allegedly
defaming Judge Abdelfattah Murad opened in Cairo on Saturday but was
immediately adjourned at the defendants' request, a judicial official
If convicted, the trio could face imprisonment.
Gamel Eid, head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information
(ANHRI), said he and the other two defendants had pleaded not guilty to
charges of defamation, blackmail and misuse of the Internet.
The other defendants are Ahmad Saif al-Islam, founder of the Hisham
Mubarak Law Centre, and blogger Amr Gharbeia, who is now an Amnesty
Eid and Saif al-Islam are among Egypt's top human rights lawyers.
In February 2007, the two published an online statement alleging that
Murad had plagiarized entire sections of an ANHRI report and reproduced
them without citation in his book.
Shortly thereafter, Murad lodged a complaint against them for