October 20, 2011 / 12:27 PM / in 6 years

EU tells Egypt to protect army critic on hunger strike

BRUSSELS, Oct 20 (Reuters) - The European Union urged Egyptian authorities on Thursday to ensure proper medical care for a jailed blogger on hunger strike and told them to respect international standards in protecting prisoners.

Michael Nabil, a Coptic Christian, was jailed on charges of spreading false information about Egypt’s military in a case that drew criticism from rights groups around the world. He went on hunger strike on Aug. 23 to protest against his conviction.

His family told rights group Amnesty International this month the activist’s health had deteriorated and the authorities had prevented him from taking medication.

“The EU has been following with great concern the case of Egyptian blogger (Nabil)... His health condition is claimed to have seriously deteriorated and if he is not immediately moved to facilities where he can receive proper hospital care, his life could be in danger,” a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said.

Spokesman Michael Mann said EU governments had written to the Egyptian foreign ministry to express concern about Nabil’s treatment.

“To date no reply has been received,” he said. “The EU urges the Egyptian authorities to respond and immediately transfer ... Nabil to facilities where he can receive proper medical care.”

“Furthermore, the EU urges the Egyptian authorities to be transparent in the communication on his status, treating ... Nabil and all other detained individuals in line with internationally agreed minimum standards,” he said.

Activists say Nabil’s case highlights the Egyptian army’s heavy-handed approach to dissenters who criticise its top generals for using tactics reminiscent of the regime of Hosni Mubarak, overthrown in a popular uprising this year.

EU ministers expressed alarm last week about the deaths of at least 24 people in clashes between military police and Christians in Egypt and said the authorities had a duty to protect religious minorities. (Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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