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Egypt must investigate torture allegations made by freed blogger

Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities to investigate allegations that a blogger released yesterday after four years in prison was recently beaten and ill-treated in detention.Kareem Amer was freed after completing a prison term for allegedly criticizing President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's al-Azhar religious authorities and Islam in a blog.Lawyers for Kareem Amer told Amnesty International yesterday that the blogger was released from Alexandria's Faraana State Security Investigations (SSI) detention centre on Wednesday, 12 days after he had completed his four-year sentence.According to reports by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) he was taken out of Alexandria's Borg al-Arab Prison on 6 November and moved to a SSI detention centre in Alexandria where he was held until yesterday.The blogger is alleged to have been detained without charge, beaten and abused by SSI officials during the 12 days before his release."While Kareem Amer's release is hugely welcome, the authorities must conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into these most disturbing new allegations of beatings and other ill-treatment and unlawful action against him by the SSI officers, and explain the legal basis for detaining him for 12 days after he was due to be released," said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa ."Kareem Amer was a prisoner of conscience, imprisoned simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression. All other prisoners of conscience should also be released and the government should amend or repeal all laws that criminalize the legitimate exercize of human rights."In 2007, Kareem Amer, whose real name is Abdel Kareem Nabil, was convicted of "inciting strife and defaming Muslims on the internet by describing the Prophet of Islam and his comrades as murderers, which disturbs national peace", and "insulting the President of the Republic by writing on the internet".He denied the charge and said that he had expressed his views freely but never intended to cause offence that would allow such charges to be levelled against him.Prison guards in Borg al-Arab assaulted Kareem Amer and placed him in solitary confinement for allegedly assaulting another inmate in October 2007.