Tomorrow, October 11, Egyptian blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad will have reached the 50th day of his hunger strike. Arrested in March, Sanad was later sentenced, by a military court, to three years in prison for accusing the military of having conducted virginity tests on female protesters (a charge later found to be true) and stating that "the army and the people are not one," a statement that runs counter to much of the sentiment expressed in Tahrir Square throughout January. In August, Sanad began a hunger strike in the hopes that it would "draw public attention to his plight and force the ruling military council to reconsider what he describes as the military’s 'discriminatory' policies," according to Shahira Amin of Index on Censorship.
Sanad himself has written from prison, sending missives via the site MidEast Youth. Sanad's father also recently wrote a letter of support for his son, citing his mental and physical state and calling for his immediate release.
A call for free expression in Egypt In post-revolutionary Egypt, free expression is not yet a guarantee. Numerous activists have been investigated by the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), while, between February and September, 11,879 people had been tried or investigated by military courts. Though Sanad's case has garnered minimal support in Egypt due to his stance on Israel (which he has supported for what he calls its "democratic values and freedom of expression"), calls for his release persist. Paraphrasing Evelyn Beatrice Hall, Professor Rasha Abdulla of the American University of Cairo recently wrote that, while she does not support Sanad's points of view, "as someone who has always been a staunch supporter of freedom of thought and expression, I will defend to the death his right to say them." Yesterday, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi vowed to end to military trials "with notable exceptions," which many see as too little, too late. Among the exceptions is the crime of "spreading false information about the military," the same crime for which Sanad was initially charged.
EFF reiterates our call for the immediate release Maikel Nabil Sanad. If Sanad remains in prison, he will die.