November 22, 2010

His Excellency Mohammad Hosni Mubarak
President of the Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 390 1998

Your Excellency,

On behalf of the 3,500 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to welcome the release of blogger and PEN American Center Honorary Member Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman (aka Kareem Amer) ten days after he completed a four-year prison sentence for his critical writings.

According to our information, Kareem Amer was due to be released from Alexandria’s Borg al-Arab prison on November 5, 2010, on expiration of his four-year sentence. Instead of being released, the 26-year-old blogger was taken to the State Security Intelligence headquarters in Alexandria, where he was held illegally for ten days and reportedly beaten. He was officially released on November 15, 2010, and returned home to his family. It is unknown whether there are any conditions attached to his release.

Kareem Amer was arrested on November 7, 2006, after posting articles critical of Islam on his blog. He was charged with “incitement to hate Muslims,” “defaming the President of the Republic” and “disparaging Islam,” and held on renewable two-week detention orders until his trial began on January 18, 2007. He was sentenced to four years in prison on February 22, 2007, for the latter two charges.

PEN American Center welcomes the release of Kareem Amer, but believes that his prison sentence was a direct violation of his right to freedom of expression as protected by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Egypt is a signatory. We also believe that Amer’s detention for ten days past his release date, during which he was reportedly beaten, was illegal and also in violation of the ICCPR. We therefore call on authorities to lift any restrictions that may have been placed on Kareem Amer since his release, and to investigate reports that he was ill-treated at the State Security Intelligence headquarters. We also call on the government to clearly implement the standards set by the ICCPR to protect its citizens’ right to freedom of expression.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this critical matter.

Hannah Pakula                         
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee       
Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: His Excellency Cr Mamdouh Muheiddin Marei
Minister of Justice
Magles El Shaab St
Justice Bldg
Fax: +202 795 8103
H.E. Nabil Fahmy   
Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United States
3521 International Court NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 244 4319

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