November 4, 2005 2:53 PM PST

Political bloggers jailed, detained

Libya has sentenced a blogger to a year and a half in prison after he criticized the government in his online articles, according to Human Rights Watch.

The jailing, which the rights group reported Thursday, is one of several recent crackdowns on bloggers by authoritarian governments. The group also confirmed Friday that Egyptian authorities have detained a university student who had criticized the government and Islamic fundamentalism in his blog in what may be the first such case in the country.

Meanwhile, free press advocate Reporters Without Borders is calling on China to reopen a blog it shut down recently. The pro-democracy blog was nominated for a free speech award in Germany just days before its closure, the Paris-based organization said.

In the Libya case, a court in Tripoli convicted blogger Abd al-Raziq al-Mansuri, 52, on charges of illegal handgun possession earlier this month, Human Rights Watch said. But al-Mansuri and his family, which has denounced his arrest and sentence, say it's an attempt to silence dissent.

"The gun charges are a ruse," Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "The authorities went after al-Mansuri because they did not like what he wrote."

The arrest came after al-Mansuri published some 50 articles on the U.K.-based Web site, in which he criticized Libyan society and government. The arrest was carried out by the Internal Security Agency, who confiscated his computer, papers and compact discs and questioned him about his articles, he told Human Rights Watch. In a search of al-Mansuri's home the next day, agents found an old pistol belonging to his father, the rights group said.

The family said Libyan authorities asked them to proclaim that al-Mansuri is deranged. Human Rights Watch said the Libyan government has not responded to requests for more information about the case.

In Egypt, authorities have detained Abdolkarim Nabil Seliman, a 21-year-old law student who wrote critically of the government and of Islamic fundamentalism in a blog. Human Rights Watch confirmed reports of Seliman's arrest that have been circulating among other Egyptian bloggers, but the organization said it's unclear whether blogging is the reason for the arrest.

Just before his arrest, Seliman, who attends the prestigious Al-Azhar University, had railed in his blog against Muslims who rioted at a Christian church in Alexandria. His family told the Associated Press that police had confiscated some of his books and printed copies of his blog articles.

Wang Yi, a teacher at China's Chengdu University, said authorities there ordered the company that hosted his blog to shut it down, Reporters Without Borders said this week. Yi had battled local police for six months before that to thwart filtering technology meant to block access to the site, he told the group.

German radio station Deutsche Welle had nominated Yi's site in the "freedom of expression" category of its blog contest. In one of his last articles, Yi wrote about an allegedly corrupt village chief in Guandong province and peasants' campaign to remove him.


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Whereabouts of Detained Egyptian Blogger Still Unknown
Friends and family of the detained blogger says it was probably his critical writing that got him in trouble. Here is the update:
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Posted by missmabrouk (1 comment )
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don't laugh!
Soon to happen in any western democratic country near you, with the passing new anti terrorist suppression laws, due to very loose anti sedition clauses! Since these laws give legal permission for the police to suppress your legal rights, and literally dissappear anyone for as long as they want and send you anywhere else in the world where legal and local laws permit torture to non persons created thus!, with no legal recourse, and redress!
Posted by heystoopid (691 comments )
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The list goes on and on
Censorship happens in the USA everyday in one form or another. Look at the Dixie Chicks, Sean Penn, Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, or the Judge who was kicked off Tom Delay's case so he can be replaced by a Republican.
Posted by casper2004 (267 comments )
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