31 August 2011
The family of blogger Michael Nabil Sanad, 25, who is serving time in prison for “insulting the military institution, and disseminating false news”, told the media Sanad was escalating his hunger strike into a thirst strike as well. Sanad had begun a hunger strike on Tuesday 23 August in his cell at al-Marg prison in Qalyubiya, to protest the disregard of the court to hear his appeal, presented on 14 July, against his prison sentence and the poor treatment he was receiving in prison. Yet, according to Mark, Sanad’s brother, the prison administration refused to register his Michael’s hunger strike and the prison doctor would not examine him.
Earlier this week, Sanad’s family held a protest in front of the Egyptian Ministry of Defence demanding his release. Sanad was tried in absentia before a military court and sentenced to three years in prison and a EGP200 fine. Rights activists and groups joined the family protest, demanding that civilians should be tried before civil not military tribunals.
“Prisoner of conscience”
Sanad, a Copt, was arrested at his home in the district of Ain Shams, Cairo, on 28 March over an article he had posted on 8 March on his blog “Son of Ra”. Under the title “The army and the people are not united. Is the Egyptian Army Standing beside the Revolution?” Sanad alleged the army had treated the demonstrators with undue harshness, and had not protected the people’s interests ever since it came into power following the popular uprising last January.
Mark said his brother’s originally poor health had worsened in prison.
In the wake of the recent pardon announced by the ruling Military Council for activists Asmaa’ Mahfouz and Luai Nagati who were accused of the same charges as Sanad, Sanad’s family submitted three petitions to the military to pardon his brother. They received no reply.
Naguib Gabrail, chairman of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights, sent a message to the Military Council demanding equal treatment for Sanad and the recently freed activists Nagati and Mahfouz.
“Michael is the first prisoner of conscience in Egypt after the revolution, and the only one who received such a harsh sentence for expressing his opinion,” his father said. “Others in a similar situation, whether activists or journalists were all set free.”