Last updated: 24 January, 2012

Egypt blogger Nabil released

Blogger Michael Nabil, who was jailed last year for insulting Egypt’s armed forces, was released on Tuesday, his brother said.

Marc Nabil posted a picture on Twitter of his brother on his release from prison.

Nabil was pardoned on Saturday “on the occasion of the first anniversary of January 25,” when the uprising began against veteran president Hosni Mubarak, the military judiciary chief said.

A military justice official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said 1,959 other prisoners would also be freed to mark the anniversary.

In a blog he wrote last March, after Mubarak stepped down on February 11, Nabil said the army had been protecting its own interests and not those of the Egyptian people.

An initial three-year sentence was reduced on appeal last month to two years. Nabil’s arrest in March and subsequent jail sentence sparked an outcry.

“If Michael Nabil perishes, so does the dream of a free Egypt,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the Geneva-based UN Watch, after the blogger went on hunger strike.

Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui said: “The end of Maikel Nabil’s cruel ordeal at the hands of the military council is a cause for real celebration.

“Yet 10 months of Maikal’s life have been wasted. He should never have been arrested in the first place. His criminal record must now be expunged and he must be compensated for his ordeal.

“The SCAF should have freed Maikel Nabil long ago. It is shameful that they apparently have only done so now to try to avoid criticism on the anniversary of January 25.”