Blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah to be freed

2011-12-25 19:49

Cairo - An Egyptian court ordered the release on Sunday of a prominent blogger detained nearly two months ago by the ruling military for his alleged role in deadly sectarian clashes in October.

Ahmed Seif, Alaa Abdel-Fattah's father, told The Associated Press his son would remain in custody for several more hours until the paperwork has been completed. He said his son has been banned from travel abroad.

Military prosecutors detained Abdel-Fattah on October 30 after he refused to answer questions over his alleged role in the clashes earlier that month in which at least 27 people, most of them Christians, were killed.

The blogger was a leader of the 18-day uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in February.

His detention has elicited international condemnation and presented activists opposed to military rule with new evidence that the generals who took over from Mubarak were following the same authoritarian policies adopted by the deposed leader.

Abdel-Fattah, 30, belongs to a family of activists who used his detention to draw international attention to the plight of thousands of civilians hauled by the ruling generals before military courts.

At least 12 000 Egyptians have been tried before military courts since late January.

The military has accused Abdel-Fattah of inciting Christian protesters to attack soldiers during the October 9 clashes that turned into the bloodiest violence since Mubarak's fall.

His supporters dismissed the claim, saying the military was trying to silence a prominent critic and to deflect blame on its soldiers in the violence.

Abdel-Fattah was Egypt's first blogger activist, launching a blog years ago organising opposition to Mubarak. He has been a vocal critic of the generals who took over from Mubarak.