Army probes Egypt blogger, TV host on abuse claims

Reuters News
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Posted: May 31, 2011 5:20 PM
Army probes Egypt blogger, TV host on abuse claims

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's military questioned a democracy activist and a television anchor on Tuesday over comments that implicated a military official in abuses against civilians, the activist said.

A military official summoned blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy for questioning after he went on television on Thursday and accused an army officer of instigating abuses by military police.

He said officials asked him to clarify his accusations and make a formal complaint backed up with evidence.

"They told me they look into all complaints they receive and act if they turn out to be true. But I told them that many complaints against the military police have been filed and there were no results," Hamalawy said.

The military prosecutor released Hamalawy on Tuesday evening but said it would question him again once he presented evidence to back up his comments about the military.

Egypt's military took power after a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak on February 11 and has repeatedly pledged to "protect the revolution" from allies of the deposed leader.

It has promised free elections and civilian rule but faces criticism from rights groups after trying hundreds of civilians in military courts and maintaining a state of emergency that gives the authorities sweeping powers of search and arrest.

At the Cairo military prosecutor's office where Hamalawy and TV anchor Reem Maged were questioned, dozens of activists and relatives of people they say were detained after anti-government protests chanted demands for freedom of expression

They questioned why Mubarak was being investigated by civilian courts, while peaceful protesters faced military trial.

"They said it would be civilian (rule) but it's turned out to be military," the protesters shouted as Hamalawy arrived.

"Shame on the armed forces that after all these months of violations ... they should be waiting for me or Reem to come here and tell them what has been taking place," Hamalawy said before he walked through the gates of the military complex.

Maged, the host of TV show Baladna (Our Country), said later in a video circulated on YouTube that she had agreed not to publish information attributed to vague sources.

Hamalawy said that writer and former policeman Nabil Sharaf el-Din was questioned at the same time over an article he wrote on a Website accusing the military of having secret deals with Egypt's Islamist opposition Muslim Brotherhood.

Separately, three counselors were summoned for questioning on Tuesday for speaking to the media without getting permission from the high court, after they called for military trials of civilians to be stopped on Al Jazeera television.

The military was not immediately available for comment. It has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing against "honorable citizens" and said only criminals were arrested and tried.