By Ann Flower Seyse
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East
Saad Eddin Ibrahim in 2003
CAIRO, Egypt – Saad Eddin Ibrahim was convicted on the charge of damaging Egypt’s reputation for speaking out against current President Hosni Mubarak and his regime in August of 2008. The conviction was founded Ibrahim’s vocal opposition of Mubarak and the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Ibrahim suggested in an opinion piece for the Washington Post that the United States withhold aid until Cairo took steps to end the smuggling of arms into the Gaza strip, and to rein in police abuses.
On May 25, Judge Ashraf Sheta overturned Ibrahim’s two-year sentence. The decision comes just days before President Obama is scheduled to speak in Cairo, and there is speculation that this decision was motivated by Obama’s visit. Ibrahim is hesitant to believe this, and has praised the Egyptian appellate court for their independent decision.
Ibrahim has been living in the United States in exile, and would like to return to Egypt to see his wife and family. He is hesitant to return while he still faces charges of spying, and treason. If convicted he could be sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. His lawyers are advising that Ibrahim remain in the United States until the charges have been resolved.
The complaints filed against Ibrahim have all been brought by members of the NDP. Ibrahim believes that this is a way for the government to try to intimidate him without directly criticizing or sanctioning him. While visiting Egypt previously there have also been attempts on Ibrahim’s life, which he thinks might have had some government involvement.
In spite of all of this, Ibrahim plans on continuing to speak out. He sees it as his duty to be a critic, because the country needs critics. Ibrahim wants to be a free voice to speak on behalf of those who are oppressed, and hopes to shed light on the problems within his nation.
For more information, please see:
The Media Line – Egyptian Dissident: Obama Should Listen to People, Not Officials – 27 May 2009
The Media Line – Egyptian Dissident ‘Will Not Stop Criticizing Regime – 26 May 2009
AFP – Egypt Court Overturns Dissident’s Jail Term – 25 May 2009
Al Arabiya News Channel – Egypt Court Acquits Leading Rights Activist – 25 May 2009
BBC News – Egypt Quashes Saad Eddin Ibrahim Jail Term – 25 May 2009