Egyptian blogger makes first appearance after more than 4 years imprisonment

History's longest imprisoned blogger, Kareem Amer, made his first public appearance on Wednesday, following his release a week ago. Speaking at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Amer pledged to continue blogging.

He spent four years and ten days in one of Egypt’s worst jails, Borg al-Arab, located 40 km from Alexandria, on charges of insulting Islam and President Hosni Mubarak.

During the appearance, Amer sat between his two ANHRI lawyers, Gamal Eid and Radwa Ahmed, in front of dozens of cameras, recorders and feverish local and international journalists.

With a thin, almost inaudible voice, he spoke about his experience of being imprisoned, detailing the four assaults he experienced.

“I was assaulted twice while being tried,” explained Amer, “and twice during my imprisonment.” He lost a tooth when a guard and an inmate together assaulted him. Amer later reported the incident to prison officials.

Eid explained that following the complaint, “Kareem was accused of being involved in a fight with another inmate, and was sent to solitary confinement for a month.”

Although the official date for his release was scheduled for 6 November, he spent an additional 11 days imprisoned by State Security in Alexandria, where he claims he was slapped in the face by an officer.

“The State Security said all along that they did not have him during these 11 extra days, but they were keeping him prisoner in the police station,” said Eid.

Amer's father and brother were forced to sign a Borg al-Arab jail document to permit his release that stipulated they will ensure Amer will never write blog posts on sensitive topics again.

“Kareem is an adult, his father and brother do not have him under their responsibility,” said Eid.

During his imprisonment, Amer wrote about his experience. All his papers, however, were confiscated by the police.

Although his future plans remain undetermined, Amer said he was interested in continuing his studies in Egypt or abroad.

“But certainly not in Al-Azhar University,” he said with a timid smile.

Amer was expelled from the institution in 2006 for “spreading rumors that endangered public security and defamed Hosni Mubarak,” according to a communiqué filed to the Public Prosecutor by the institution's administration. 

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