Egypt releases prominent blogger pending investigation

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 25, 2011 9:53 AM
Egypt releases prominent blogger pending investigation

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian authorities released a prominent blogger detained on charges of inciting violence against the armed forces, a court source said on Sunday, adding that prosecutors were still investigating his case.

Military prosecutors detained Alaa Abd El Fattah in October after deadly clashes broke out between the army and demonstrators in central Cairo.

The detention has outraged activists who saw it as part of a broader crackdown. Pressure has been growing on Egypt's ruling generals, who replaced deposed President Hosni Mubarak in February and have pledged to hand power to an elected president by July.

The blogger had refused to be questioned by military prosecutors over "inciting violence and sabotage" in connection with clashes on October 9, when more than 25 people were killed.

He said the army had no right to interrogate him and said he would only speak to a civilian official, prompting his detention.

The case was then transferred under pressure from human rights groups to the general prosecution. The ruling bans Abd El Fattah from leaving the country during the probe.

"The most important thing is that Alaa broke the will of the military junta, he refused interrogation by military prosecution and it didn't happen," activist Amr Ezzat said on Twitter after Abdel Fattah's release.

Abd El Fattah would be released pending the investigations into his case, the court source said, without adding details.

The clashes connected to Abd El Fattah's case erupted during a demonstration by Christians and are now commonly known as the "Maspero" events because they took place near the state television headquarters which are known by that name.

Twenty seven others accused of inciting violence in the case were released earlier this month pending trial.

Activists have accused the military council of mismanaging Egypt's transition and killing dozens of protesters calling for an end to their rule.

The latest round of violence broke out after the second stage of a six-week parliamentary election which starts a slow countdown to the army's return to barracks. Seventeen people died in the fighting and hundreds were wounded.

An army official said last week that Egyptian military personnel accused of taking part in violent clashes and human rights violations against protesters will be prosecuted by military courts.

(Reporting By Tamim Elyan Editing by Maria Golovnina)