Kareem Amer, the Egyptian blogger who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2006, has completed his prison term. He has, however, not been released from incarceration, which is the longest any blogger has served so far. Kareem's crimes were allegedly insulting religion and the leadership of Egypt. He was critical of, among other things, Egypt's treatment of women and of its Coptic Christian minority.
Each country that imprisons bloggers like Kareem always proclaims (and Western companies always parrot) the line that theirs is a country of laws. If that is so, why has Kareem not been released? According to Egyptian courts, he was guilty of certain crimes, sentenced to jail time for them, and has now discharged his obligation to the state.
Update at end of post, after jump.
During his four years in Egyptian prison, Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suleiman, better known by his blogging name of Kareem Amer, has been tortured, beaten, attacked by other prisoners, disowned by his family and had his books, letters and personal effects taken away.
concerned Muslims who do not agree with his criticism of Islam and one group in particular, Free Kareem, agitating for his safety and liberty constantly. They have helped arrange near-constant protests, many near Egyptian embassies, media outreach and campaigns to send Kareem mail (and make certain his overseers know the world's eyes are on him).But he has also had constant contact from the outside world, the support of people around the world, including the vocal support of
That group has suggested a number of things people concerned for the life and health of the blogger, as well as fairness and free speech in general, can do to speed his release, or at least keep up the pressure to keep him safe.
"There is an ongoing letter campaign that we urge you to participate in order to share your outrage with Egyptian officials worldwide. Contacts of officials and diplomats can be found here, alternatively you can write to your local Egyptian Embassy."
If one were to believe that Kareem broke Egyptian law, and further, that that law were right, one would have to believe that the successful completion of a lawful sentence should be immediately followed by release. If, however, the legal elements of this case were excuse and window dressing, then Kareem is held out of contempt and pride.
Esra'a Al Shafei, director of Free Kareem and Mideast Youth, told ReadWriteWeb that his fate is uncertain.
"No one has any information about his release yet, including his lawyers (surprisingly.) At this point, him being still imprisoned is just an assumption. There are several people trying to get the information, we are waiting to hear from them. There are no official statements about his status. We are all concerned about his safety, considering the fact that there are still people calling for his death, and he's still abandoned by his family."
UPDATED: Free Kareem confirms that Kareem in fact has continued to be imprisoned.
"It's been confirmed that Kareem remains in jail despite having completed his prison term. We will be hearing more news within the next few days as his status is still pending, according to his lawyers. Friends who have attempted to visit him also confirm that he's still imprisoned."