28 May 2009


Court upholds heavy fine against blogger

Incident details

Fine, Sentence

Tamer Mabrouk, Blogger
(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Mosawah Association for Human Rights in Port Said expressed their strong condemnation over the unjust ruling issued on 26 May 2009 by the al-Zohour Court of Appeal in Port Said, which upheld an earlier decision issued on 20 January. The court sentenced Tamer Mabrouk, owner of the blog "The Egyptian truth", http://elhakika.blogspot.com , to a fine of L.E. 2500 (approx. US$450), and civil compensation of L.E. 40.000 (US$7,100) payable to Trust Chemical inc.

Trust Chemical filed a libel and slander case against Mabrouk in June 2008, after he posted information that revealed that the company had dumped chemicals into Manzallah Lake and the Suez Canal, which resulted in significant adverse effects on the health of citizens and the fish population. Mabrouk also reported on harsh working conditions at the company. These conditions led to a recent worker sit-in, where workers asked for access to copies of their contracts and demanded that the company stop firing workers arbitrarily.

The 26 May ruling by the Court of Appeal dealt an illogical and severe blow to the case in which all the facts proved the fairness and validity of the defendant's position. A number of members of Parliament requested an investigation into the violations committed by Trust Chemical. Some of them demanded that the company be quickly moved outside of the city, because of the serious danger the waste it dumps in the lake and the canal poses to the lives of citizens. These facts were reported by a number of respected newspapers, both from the opposition and from the government.

Mabrouk said: "I will continue what I started, and will not stand helpless in front of the influence of this company which threatens our lives and suppresses its workers."

ANHRI notes that the Internet police of the Ministry of Interior played a major role in this case, exceeding its duty, as it also brought the same charges against Mabrouk, rather than simply be content with its technical role of identifying the owner of the blog. The blogger himself admitted that he posted these topics and pictures, pointing out that what he published were mere facts.

The two organizations defending Mabrouk, ANHRI and Mosawah Association, said: "The law had no role in this case . . . it was marginalized like in many other politicized cases. Based on our legal experience, we state that, unfortunately, Tamer Mabrouk has been subjected to gross injustice, as he did not violate the law in the articles he published."

The two organizations will receive a copy of the legal rationale, at which point they will prepare a detailed commentary pointing out how the law was violated, and then submit a cassation appeal.

This is the second time that an Egyptian court issues a final decision against a blogger for what the person posted on their blog, after the case of blogger Karim Amer. The absence of law and the overwhelming presence of politics are blatantly clear in both cases.


Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
19-26 July St., Downtown, 4th Floor, Flat 55
info (@) anhri.net
Phone: +20 227 736177
Fax: +20 227 736177
More from Egypt