Egypt blogger arrest sets "dangerous precedent"-HRW

Wed Apr 6, 2011 7:13pm GMT

* Maikel Nabil faces up to 3 years in jail if found guilty

* Nabil charges include "insulting the military"

CAIRO, April 6 (Reuters) - Human Rights Watch urged Egypt's ruling military council on Wednesday to drop charges against a blogger arrested for criticising the armed forces, saying it set a "dangerous precedent".

Rights activists suspect anything from hundreds to thousands of Egyptians are being held and tried before military courts behind closed doors after the overthrow in February of President Hosni Mubarak.

Maikel Nabil faces up to three years in prison if found guilty of "insulting the military". The verdict was due on Wednesday but there was no word on the trial's outcome.

"It's pretty stunning in Egypt's supposed new era of rights to see the military government prosecuting someone in a military court for writing about the military," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

"This trial sets a dangerous precedent at a time when Egypt is trying to transition away from the abuses of the Mubarak era," she said.

Nabil was taken from his home by five military officers early on March 28 and charged with "insulting the military establishment" and "spreading false information," his brother told Human Rights Watch.   Continued...

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