Egypt releases blogger facing trial by military court

Amnesty International has welcomed the release of an Egyptian blogger, who was facing jail after he published a post alleging nepotism within the armed forces.The organization said it remains concerned that the release of Ahmed Mostafa was conditional on him agreeing to apologise and on removing the March 2009 posting from his Matha Assabaka ya Watan (What happened to you, oh nation?) blog.He was due to appear before a military tribunal for a second time on Sunday 7 March and could have faced up to nine and a half years in prison.The first Egyptian blogger to face a military trial for his alleged activities, Mostafa published, following his release, a post on his blog, advising other bloggers to check information before posting it.According to Mostafa’s lawyers the military tribunal have not given reasons for the release and the authorities have kept the case on file, meaning it could be revived in the future.An engineering student at the university of Kafr El Sheikh, Mostafa was accused of publishing military secrets online, publishing false information about the army and of insulting officers involved in the recruitment process at the military academy.The post recounted the story of a student who had allegedly been forced to resign from a military academy in order to leave room for another applicant amid accusations of nepotism.According to lawyers from the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Ahmed Mostafa was first arrested by military intelligence officers on February 17 and was questioned about his blog.He first appeared before a military tribunal on Monday 1 March although lawyers representing him from the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and the Association for the Freedom of Thought and Expression told Amnesty International that they only received his case file from the authorities on Tuesday 2 March.Amnesty International considered Mostafa to be a prisoner of conscience and had called for his release.Other Egyptian bloggers have been prosecuted for their writing.Karim Amer, an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in February 2007 for criticizing President Hosni Mubarak and Egypt’s al-Azhar religious authorities on his blog.Hani Nazeer, another prisoner of conscience, has been held in administrative detention since October 2008 for posting on his blog the cover of a book deemed insulting to Muslims.