CAIRO, (Reuters) – Egyptian authorities have released a 22-year-old blogger and activist after holding him for nearly seven weeks, a human rights group said on Saturday.
Police detained Diaa Eddin Gad on Feb. 6 outside his home in the Nile Delta province of Gharbiya. London-based rights group Amnesty International said in February that his incommunicado detention at an unknown location put him in danger of torture.
“Dia was released at dawn (on Friday) … He was ill-treated in the period where we did not know where he was being held,” said Gamal Eid, director of the Cairo-based Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
Eid said police beat the Egyptian blogger in a car immediately after picking him up and during his detention in State Security offices.
Police beat and kicked Gad, threatened to electrocute him, and electrocuted others in front of him, according to Eid.
The government says it prosecutes torturers.
Gad’s blog Sawt Ghadib or “An Angry Voice” (http://soutgadeb.blogspot.com) contained pro-Gaza slogans and news and commentary on Gaza during the three-week Israeli offensive on the coastal strip, as well as strident denunciations of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and the security services.
Eid said police interrogation of Gad focused on such criticism, and on his references to Mubarak as “Ehud Mubarak”, an apparent reference to Israeli Defence Minister and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
The government has faced rising public anger over its enforcement of a blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, especially since the Israeli offensive in Gaza on January.
Egypt has been less tolerant of criticism of its Gaza policy since the Israeli offensive. This increased Egyptian public opposition to Cairo’s participation in an Israeli-led blockade of the Hamas-run territory.
Egyptian authorities have stepped up measures against bloggers and web activists in recent weeks even as the government freed opposition politician Ayman Nour, one of its most prominent critics. Nour’s release had long been demanded by Washington.