Egypt Military Quizzes Activist After 'Defamation'

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Agence France-Presse

Egypt Military Quizzes Activist After 'Defamation'

by
Patrick Baz

Asma Mahfuz

Egypt's military prosecution on Sunday detained activist and blogger Asma Mahfuz for questioning for allegedly defaming the military council on Facebook and Twitter, the official MENA news agency reported.

Mahfuz -- one of the leaders of the Egyptian revolution that unseated former president Hosni Mubarak -- was released on bail of 20,000 pounds (around 3,300 dollars, 2,300 euros) but the investigation continues, MENA said.

She is being questioned for "speaking inappropriately about the military council and for using defamatory and offensive insults against the council on Facebook and Twitter," MENA said.

The head of the military judicial authority, Major General Mahmud Morsi, issued a statement saying Mahfuz had overstepped the limits of free speech by insulting the military.

There will be "no tolerance to insults directed at the armed forces," Morsi said, adding that such defamation was considered an offence under the criminal code and that violators will be prosecuted.

He stressed that this includes any slander or libel that is broadcast by satellite channels or posted on the Internet through the social networks Facebook and Twitter.

According to MENA, she allegedly wrote on Facebook: "If justice is not met, no one should be upset.

"If armed gangs took to the streets and carried out a string of assassinations. As long as there is no law, and there is no justice, no one should be upset about anything."

But her lawyer, Hossam Issa, told AFP: "What Asma wrote on Facebook is not a call to violence... she was only expressing her fears and that is not a crime."

Issa added that the comments attributed to Mahfuz on Twitter were not her own and that someone had hacked into her account.

Mahfuz was a co-founder of the April 6 youth movement which had called for the January 25 street protests which led to the ousting of Mubarak 18 days later, ending his 30-year autocratic rule.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took power after the nationwide anti-regime protests.

The council has come under much criticism from pro-democracy activists in Egypt for arresting journalists for their articles and dragging its feet in handing power over to a civilian government.

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