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Egypt court reduces sentence of jailed blogger

An Egyptian military court on Thursday reduced the sentence of a blogger charged with criticizing the military. The court reduced the three-year sentence of blogger Maikel Nabil to two years. Nabil was convicted and sentenced [JURIST report] to prison in April for criticizing the Egyptian army and raising questions over reform in the wake of revolution. The 25-year-old blogger and activist was arrested [HRW report] at his home on March 28 and charged with "insulting the military establishment" and "spreading false information" for criticizing the army's handling of the revolution that began on January 25. He posted an article on his blog [text, in Arabic] on March 7 saying the army had beat, tortured and killed protesters, including some who were cooperating with security forces. He was sentenced without a formal hearing and without his lawyers present. Nabil has been on a hunger strike since August in protest of his conviction. His family reports that he plans to escalate his hunger strike [BBC report] despite the courts reduction of his sentence causing serious concerns for his already deteriorating health.

The blogger's conviction has raised doubts about the military's commitment to reform after Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile] stepped down. In March, the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [NYT backgrounder] unveiled an interim constitution that allows the council to retain control over the country until an elected government is installed. The document vests the military council with presidential powers [Al-Ahram report], including the abilities to introduce legislation, veto existing laws and act as Egypt's representative to the international community. Last November, Egypt released blogger Abdel Kareem Nabil [advocacy website] after four years of imprisonment on charges of insulting Islam and causing sectarian strife on his blog [website, in Arabic]. Nabil, a former law student, was convicted in 2007 [JURIST report] for posting statements critical of Islamic authorities and former president Mubarak, calling him a dictator.

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