Suleiman, who blogged under the name Kareem Amer, was sentenced in 2006 to four years of jail for insulting religion and the leadership of Egypt on his blog. He was critical of, among other things, Egypt's treatment of women and of its Coptic Christian minority. Supporters report that during those four years, Amer was tortured, beaten, attacked by other prisoners, disowned by his family and had his books, letters and personal effects taken away. His case is of international interest not just because of his humanity, but because of the political conflict between authoritarian states and a new world of freely self-published bloggers who would challenge them with new Web technology.
Due to the political importance of his case, Amer gained an international support movement that kept him in the online news throughout his time in prison. ReadWriteWeb has covered his case at least five times, most recently and in depth when his sentence expired, but he remained in state custody for an additional 10 days.
Amer's supporters say he is declining interviews while recovering from his detention.
Part of a Larger Trend
Though Kareem Amer was the longest-imprisoned blogger known, detained for most of the history of this young phenomenon called Social Media, he was not alone.
A report by international media watchdog organization Reporters Sans Frontières last year found that there were 151 people in prison around the world because of the contents of their blogs in 2009, a nearly three-fold increase over 2008.
Iranian cultural satire blogger Omid Reza Misayafi is believed to be the only blogger killed in prison to date. He was sentenced in 2008 to 30 months in prison for "insulting Islamic Republic Leaders" but died under mysterious and allegedly abusive circumstances after just six months of detention.
With brave bloggers in mind who are free, imprisoned and deceased around the world, we leave you with the moving short video Iran: A Nation of Bloggers, about just one of many places where disruptive social media and authoritarian tradition clash, and where the stakes are at their highest.