Two human rights organisations condemned the public prosecution for issuing an arrest warrant for video blogger Ahmed Anwar and referring him to trial.
The prosecution referred Anwar to the Tanta Partial Court after charging him with insulting the Ministry of Interior.
Anwar had posted a video to YouTube of the Ministry of Interior honouring several singers and actors for “raising the morale of policemen” and titled it “The relationship between Marwa, the Ministry of Interior and deteriorating security.
In the video Anwar accused the police of failing to provide security and added sarcastic captions. One of these stated that the police force did not need reforming but rather “a soft chest to cry on” after its defeat on 28 January 2011.
The legal affairs director at the Al-Gharbeya security directorate filed a complaint against Anwar over the video in 2012 and after the prosecution finished its investigation it issued an arrest warrant for him on 17 March 2013, referring him to court on 27 March.
A joint statement by the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) and the Association for Freedom of Though and Expression (AFTE) states that the charges Anwar is facing are based on Article 75 of Law 10 (2003) which organises communications.
The law stipulates either a prison sentence or a fine ranging from EGP 20,000 to 100,000 as punishment. Furthermore, Article 306 of the Penal Code, which addresses slander, stipulates EGP 2,000-10,000 as a fine.
“AFTE and ANHRI consider that the accusation of blogger Ahmed Anwar and his trial in view of his exercise of his right to freedom of expression via the internet is yet another piece of evidence of the Egyptian authorities’ hostility and violations against internet users, in a desperate attempt to silence its critics,” the statement said.
The fact that the Ministry of Interior and not a private citizen filed a lawsuit against Anwar is further evidence of the state’s stance against freedom of expression, the NGOs added.
“Both organisations call upon the Egyptian government to put an end to its persecution of internet activists and to respect freedom of expression, recently under constant threat of a government that seeks to impose silence in the public space,” the statement concluded.