Military prosecution releases activist on LE 20,000 bail

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CAIRO: The Military Prosecution released Sunday activist Asmaa Mahfouz on LE 20,000 bail pending further investigations into charges of inciting violence and defaming the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Mahfouz, a former member of the April 6 Youth Movement, was also accused of spreading false news and rumors about SCAF and disturbing public peace.

According to the official Middle East News Agency (MENA), Mahfouz wrote on her Facebook page: "If the judiciary does not grant us our rights, don’t be angry if militant groups carry out a series of assassinations since there is neither law nor justice."

Lawyer Ali Atef told Daily News Egypt right after the prosecution’s decision was announced that “setting such a high bail means they believe she is guilty.”

"They want to make it difficult for her to pay the bail and get released," Atef, a lawyer with the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), said.

Activists were quick to spread calls on social networking sites to raise the money, but Gamal Eid, director of ANHRI said that an unnamed businessman has volunteered to bail her out, according to activist Mona Seif.

Dozens of activists had earlier held a protest outside the military prosecution building in solidarity with Mahfouz, at least three of them were arrested including activist Noor Ayman Noor, the son of presidential hopeful Ayman Noor, Mohamed Ibrahim and Mohamed Farid. The three were released within an hour of their arrest.

Atef said that Mahfouz may have crossed the line in a telephone interview with a TV program broadcast on El-Nas channel following the Abbasiya clashes of July 23, but explained that she was emotional because of the violent attack on the peaceful rally merely because it criticized the SCAF.

Unconfirmed reports had earlier said that the reason behind the case against her statements she made to Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr accusing SCAF of orchestrating the Abbasiya attack.

In the early hours of July 23, SCAF had accused in its 69th statement April 6 of having foreign ties and driving a wedge between the people and the army.

On the same day, Major General Hassan El-Ruwainy, also commander of the army’s central zone, reiterated the same claims, saying in a telephone interview with Al-Jazeera Mubasher Misr that the movement members were trained in Serbia and received funds from foreign entities. He said the evidence proving his allegations would be announced at a later date.

Since then SCAF neither interrogated any April 6 members nor opened an official public inquiry to present the evidence against them.

Such accusations fueled an earlier call for a march from Tahrir Square to the defense ministry later in the afternoon. On the way, the military police prevented thousands of protesters from moving forward as armed men carrying knives and sticks attacked the protesters in Abbasiya.

About 300 protesters were injured and one died a few weeks later from injuries sustained.

The official fact-finding committee investigating the incident announced three days later that the assault was pre-planned.

Like other activists, Mahfouz is known for her outspoken criticism of SCAF and the government in media statements and on Twitter and Facebook.

"It is as if SCAF is sending us a clear threat…at the time when no investigation was started into the complaints filed against El-Ruwainy [accusing him of inciting the public against activists]," member of No to Military Trials campaign Mona Seif told DNE.

Many local and international rights groups have frequently condemned the prosecution of thousands of civilians to military courts during and after the mass protests that ousted president Hosni Mubarak. –Additional reporting by Heba Fahmy.

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