Egypt releases detained blogger

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities have released a 22-year-old Egyptian blogger and activist after nearly seven weeks in detention, an Egyptian human rights group said on Saturday.

Police detained Diaa Eddin Gad on February 6 outside his home in the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya. London-based rights group Amnesty International said in February that his incommunicado detention in an unknown location put him at danger of torture.

“Dia was released (Friday) at dawn... He was ill-treated in the period where we did not know where he was being held,” said Gamal Eid, director of the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Eid said police beat Gad in the car immediately after detaining him and during his detention in State Security offices.

Police beat and kicked him, threatened to electrocute him, and electrocuted others in front of him, according to Eid.

The government says it prosecutes torturers.

Gad's blog Sawt Ghadib or "An Angry Voice" ( contained pro-Gaza slogans and news and commentary on Gaza during the three-week Israeli offensive on the coastal strip, as well as strident denunciations of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak and security services.

Eid said police interrogation of Gad focused on such criticism, and on his references to Mubarak as “Ehud Mubarak”--an apparent reference to Israeli Defense Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.

The government has faced rising public anger over its enforcement of a blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, especially since an Israeli offensive in Gaza on January.

Egypt has been less tolerant of criticism of its Gaza policy since an Israeli offensive that ended on January 18. This increased Egyptian public opposition to Cairo’s participation in an Israeli-led blockade of the Hamas-run territory.

Egyptian authorities have escalated tactics against bloggers and web activists in recent weeks even as the government freed opposition politician Ayman Nour, one of its most prominent critics. Nour’s release had long been demanded by Washington.

Writing by Aziz El-Kaissouni