World News

Egypt court upholds 4-year sentence for blogger

Egyptian blogger Abdel Kareem Suleiman (L) is escorted by police officers in a court house in Alexandria February 22, 2007. REUTERS/Stringer

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court confirmed the four-year jail sentence imposed on an Egyptian student blogger for posting writings critical of Islam and the government, the state news agency MENA said.

Blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, then 22, was arrested in 2006 and charged with publishing opinions aimed at disturbing public order, insulting the head of state and defaming Islam. He was expelled from al-Azhar University, Egypt’s most prestigious seat of Islamic learning.

Suleiman will spend only one year in jail as he has already spent three years in detention since his arrest.

In April, Egyptian police beat and detained at least 18 members of a protest blogging group, the Sixth of April Youth, which called for a national strike each year on April 6 under the slogan: “It’s our right, and we’ll take it.”

Suleiman was among several bloggers arrested in 2006, prompting the rights group Reporters Without Borders to add Egypt to a list of the worst suppressors of freedom of expression on the Internet.

Egypt joined 12 other countries on the list, including Cuba, Myanmar, Iran and Turkmenistan.

Writing by Yasmine Saleh; editing by Tim Pearce