Monday, 16 November 2009

Internet Governance Forum and censorship in Egypt

Interesting to see that the 4th annual United Nations meeting on Internet governance is taking place in the country which is 143rd on the list of media freedoms and with Reporters Without Frontiers formally protesting about the dictatorship's treatment of bloggers:

“Egypt’s legitimacy to host such a meeting is questionable as it has repeatedly been guilty of violations of online free expression,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It is astonishing that a government that is openly hostile to Internet users is assigned the organisation of an international meeting on the Internet’s future. Egypt is one of the enemies of the Internet and if Internet governance requires a degree of regulation, it should be of a liberal nature and not the kind that the Egyptian government would like to impose.”
There have four reminders of Egypt’s readiness to censor the Internet in the past two weeks alone. Police arrested two young bloggers, Mohamed Adel, 20, and Amr Osama, 19, and their lawyer, Amr Ezz, in central Cairo on the night of 3 November on charges of “spreading false news and rumours liable to disturb the peace” and gave them a beating after escorting them to El-Azbakeya police station. They were released the next morning. Adel was previously detained for three months and tortured after being arrested in November 2008. At the end of October, the authorities abandoned an investigation into a police officer, Ashraf Aglan, and his brother, Ahmed Aglan, who attacked another blogger, Wael Abbas (see his blog The prosecutor said it was dropped for lack of evidence although three medical reports confirm Abbas’ injuries. Ayman Nour, a human rights lawyer who defends freedom of expression, was forbidden to leave the country on 4 November, as he was about to fly to the United States. He was given no reason for the ban.