Health of Imprisoned Egyptian Blogger on Hunger Strike Becoming Critical

By Mary Abdelmassih (AINA)


Dr. Michael Nabil Sanad, the 26-year-old blogger jailed by an Egyptian military court, could die soon in prison, says his family and human rights groups. Reporters Without Borders (RWB) called on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to immediately release Michael. According to RWB "If he does not resume drinking, he could very soon die in detention and SCAF would have to take full responsibility."

After visiting his brother today at El-Marg prison, Mark Sanad said Michael's health, after 28-days of a hunger strike, has become critical. "He is unable to leave bed. When he stands up he loses his vision. He has lost 12 KG and weighs 48 KG now."

Blogger Michael Sanad went on hunger strike to protest his prison sentence, as well as his anger that other bloggers who were in his situation, such as Asma Mahfouz and Loay Najati, were pardoned by the military council. He was to three-years in prison sentence by a military court on April 10, for entries on his blog criticizing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). He was accused of insulting the military establishment and spreading false information about it. However, according to SCAF press release number 68, military trials are limited to crimes of rape, thuggery and assaulting security personnel.

He began his hunger strike on August 23, and a water and medication strike on September 12 (AINA 8-25-2011).

On Monday, September 19, Michael's supporters held a march from Tahrir Square to the Council of Ministers calling for his freedom and demanding an end to military trials of civilians.

Mark Sanad said that Michael is refusing to go into the prison infirmary because prison authorities refuse to state the reason for his hunger, thirst and medications strike in their reports. Mark also said the authorities are pressuring Michael to call off his strike as this is damaging the image of a respected Egyptian symbol (SCAF).

He accused them of putting into Michael's food bag some drugs to indict him in a drug case. "I was also threatened to be detained if I do not keep quiet and stop defending my brother. I will not stop. Let them detain me. I have no problem with that."

According to the letter sent by Michael and published on his official campaign page on facebook "Free Michael Nabil" which has 23,000 members, he exposed the prison authorities of lying to his visitors including his family that he does not wish to see them "while I would have loved to see them and needed their visits," he wrote.

Jean-François Julliard, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders said on September 3 "While Sanad's hunger strike is a personal decision, the authorities are responsible for the cause, an unjust and anti-democratic political imprisonment."

Mark Sanad said that his brother's appeal is scheduled for October 4, "this would be the 42nd day in Michael's hunger strike. But Michael will not live until then."

Nabil Sanad, Michael's father, who has sent seven appeals to SCAF to pardon his son, without a single reply, said should his son die, it would be a crime against humanity. "I will hold the prison authorities, the interior minister and SCAF responsible for his death. I will file a case in the Egyptian Courts and if I get no justice, I will take them to the International Court of Justice."

By Mary Abdelmassih

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