An Egyptian military court sentenced Internet activist and blogger Maikel Nabil to three years in jail for criticizing the armed forces.
He was arrested on March 28 for his blog posts criticizing the army’s role during the massive protests across the country during the January 25 Revolution that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.
Nabil, a secular activist, 26, famous for his critical movement on Facebook called “No for the compulsory conscription,” is the first blogger jailed in Egypt since the removal of Mubarak.
Gamal Eid, a leading human rights lawyer and the head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) told reporters that everyone is "shocked, as the military tribunal said the ruling will be issued on Tuesday."
As a result of the expected ruling on Tuesday, the lawyer and the defendant left the court along with the family.
However, afterward the court issued its decision and sentenced Nabil to three years in military jail.
Eid added that it was an unfair trial because the court did not even consider the content of Nabil’s blog posts.
He said that he would send a petition to the head of the court to free Nabil and reverse the decision.
The military prosecution charged Nabil with publishing false information and insulting the Armed Forces.
Bloggers throughout the past few years under the former Mubarak government were likewise tried and jailed for content they posted on personal blogs.
Internet activists, local and International human rights organizations condemned the use of the military tribunal.
An earlier statement by US-based Human Rights Watch called on Egypt’s military rulers to cancel the trial of the blogger.
Egypt’s armed forces "should drop all charges against (Nabil) for his Internet posts critical of the military," HRW’s statement said.
"This trial sets a dangerous precedent at a time when Egypt is trying to transition away from the abuses of the Mubarak era," HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson was quoted as saying.
This is the first trial of a blogger by a military court since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces assumed control after former President Mubarak resigned on February 11 following a wave of anti-regime protests.