Saturday, April 03, 2010

Young Egyptian publisher arrested!

On the background of publishing a book about Elbaradei, the young publisher Ahmed Mehanna was arrested by Security Forces this morning after searching his house for copies of the book.

Around 5:00pm today, Mehanna’s colleagues told the Facebook community – who are following the case curiously since early morning – that he was taken in a police truck to El-Ameriya Police Station. According to Youm7 website, Ahmed’s father tried to see him, but the police officers stopped him and said that “Ahmed will stay with us for more two days for some procedures.”

According to his colleagues at Dar Dawin Publishing House, “Mehanna was arrested this dawn [Saturday April 3, 2010] on the background of publishing a new book about the possibility of transforming the political momentum created by Elbaradei into a green revolution.” The book has been distributed to public bookstores all over Egypt since last week.

“Police officers have no official papers indicating that he is arrested!” Mehanna’s lawyers asserted. “Mehanna’s arrival to El-Ameriya Police Stations increases the possibilities that he may be deported later to State Security Prosecutor’s Office.”

Mohamed Elbaradei is the former director of IAEA and a Nobel laureate. Since his return to Cairo in mid-February after ending his term at IAEA, Elbaradei was pushed by supporters from among intellectuals, Kefaya Movement and April 6 Youth Movement to run for the coming presidential elections due in 2011. Although Elbaradei is not eligible for running to the highest position in the State, according to the current constitution, his supporters believe that he can change the constitution and then run for the 2011 elections. Last month, Elbaradei established “The National Association for Change” among hopes and suspicions of its ability to make real change.

The “green revolution” mentioned on the book cover, apparently, refers to the “green movement" launched by Iranian dissidents in June 2009 to protest the results of the allegedly forged results of the presidential elections which brought the Islamic conservative regime into power again.

Dar Dawin is a young and promising publishing house that started few years ago with the purpose of giving talented young writers the opportunity to have their works published without waiting on the long list of the giant publishers who monopolized the publishing business in Egypt for tens of years.

Arresting Mehanna for publishing a book, whatever its content is, is absolutely unacceptable. Egyptian publishers, bloggers, human rights activists and freedom of speech advocates are supporting Mehanna. Each of them is working through his/her own channels to pressure for his release as soon as possible.

Please, stop violating our right to free speech!

Update (afternoon - SundayApril 4, 2010): According to his lawyers, Ahmed Mehanna is charged with disturbing the public order and inciting people, while some police officers said that they found suspicious materials related to banned religious groups on his personal computer. These charges are very common in Egypt. Almost all freedom of expression victims from bloggers, civil activists, journalists, and now publishers have been charged with them before. This morning, Ahmed's supporters launched a rally to the High Judicial House to protest his detention. Again, I would like to say: Publishing a book is not a crime!

Update (evening - Sunday April 4, 2010): According Youm7 website, Elbaradei protested Ahmed Mehanna's arrest by publishing the following line on his Twitter account: "Arresting the publisher who released a book about me and my thoughts implify that the regime is scared of its own shadow!"


Update (7:00pm - Sunday April 4, 2010): Ahmed Mehanna RELEASED. He is home now. Congratulations :)