Egypt

Egyptian Security Police Detain Blogger and Graduate Student Philip Rizk

Reuters, the LA Times, and the International Herald Tribune report that Egyptian state security police detained blogger Philip Rizk on Friday night, when he was returning to Cairo after a march

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Neuwirth v. Silverstein

Date: 

06/29/2007

Threat Type: 

Lawsuit

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Richard Silverstein; Joel Beinin

Type of Party: 

Individual

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

State

Court Name: 

California Superior Court, Los Angeles County; Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District

Case Number: 

SC 094441 (trial level); B205521 (appellate level)

Legal Counsel: 

Janis White; Lane Powell; Suman Chakraborty (for Silverstein); Steven J. Freeburg (for Beinin)

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Email

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Dismissed (partial)

Description: 

In June 2007, Rachel Neuwirth, a journalist and political commentator who espouses strongly pro-Israel views, sued Washington-state blogger Richard Silverstein and university professor Joel Beinin for libel in a California state court. On November 27, 2007, the court granted Silverstein and Beinin's motion to strike the complaint pursuant to California's anti-SLAPP statute (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 425.16).

Neuwirth, a journalist and political commentator who espouses staunchly pro-Israel views, sued over two allegedly defamatory statements, one made by Silverstein on his blog, Tikun Olam, and the other made by Beinin on a listserv and subsequently re-published by Silverstein. In the first statement, Silverstein called Neuwirth a "Kahanist swine." The term "Kahanist" refers to a form of right-wing, religious Zionism, one of the central tenets of which is that all Arab Muslims are enemies of Israel. The Israeli Kahane Chai (Kach) party is barred from participating in Israeli elections and listed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States, Canada, and the European Union. Neuwirth argued that, by calling her a "Kahanist swine," Silverstein implied that she was a terrorist. The second statement was Beinin's, made on the "Alef" listserv, claiming that Neuwirth had made a death threat to him. Silverstein subsequently re-posted Beinin's statement on his blog.

In granting the motion to strike, the court determined that the anti-SLAPP statute applied because Silverstein and Beinin made their respective statements in a "public forum" and those statements related to an issue of public interest. The burden then shifted to Neuwirth to demonstrate a probability that she would prevail on her claim. The court found that Neuwirth had not met this burden, holding that she was a limited purpose public figure and noting that she had brought forth no evidence of "actual malice" for either of the two statements. With regard to Silverstein's "Kahanist swine" statement, the court further held that this was a non-actionable statement of opinion. 

Finally, the court held that Neuwirth's claim against Silverstein for re-publishing Beinin's statement was barred by CDA 230, which protects providers of interactive computer services from tort liability for publishing the statements or content of third parties.

The court awarded Beinin $1,840 in attorney's fees and indicated that Silverstein should make his claim for attorney's fees in a separate motion.  At the conclusion of the hearing in which the court delivered its decision, Neuwirth's attorney told the court that his client intended to appeal the ruling.

 

Update:

1/25/08 - Neuwirth filed a notice of appeal.

3/4/08 - The court ordered Neuwirth to pay Silverstein $7000 in attorneys fees pursuant to the anti-SLAPP statute.

2/9/2009 - The Court of Appeal of the State of California, Second Appellate District, reversed the trial court's ruling on the motion to strike, reinstating the claims against Silverstein and Beinin, except for the claim against Silverstein for re-publishing Beinin's statement.

7/19/2010 - Superior Court order denying Silverstein's motion for summary judgment, holding, inter alia, that "the law of the case doctrine requires this Court to find that Plaintiff has established the existence of libel per se."  

(NOTE: Joel Beinin is the Director of Middle East Studies at the American University in Cairo, where one of the authors of this database entry attended graduate school.)

Jurisdiction: 

Subject Area: 

Content Type: 

Egypt v. Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suliman

Threat Type: 

Criminal Charge

Date: 

11/06/2006

Party Issuing Legal Threat: 

Public Prosecutor, Egypt

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suliman, a.k.a. Kareem Amer

Type of Party: 

Government

Type of Party: 

Individual

Court Type: 

International

Court Name: 

Maharram Beik Misdemeanor Court (Alexandria, Egypt); Court of Appeal (Alexandria)

Case Number: 

Case No. 6677 of 2006

Legal Counsel: 

Gamal Abdul Aziz Eid, Rawda Ahmed Said, Ahmed Seif al-Islam

Publication Medium: 

Blog
Website

Relevant Documents: 

Status: 

Pending

Disposition: 

Verdict (plaintiff)

Description: 

Egyptian law student Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suliman ("Kareem"), using the psuedonym Kareem Amer, posted a series of articles critizing the Islamic faith, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Al-Azhar University to his blog and websites, Modern Discussion and Copts United. He was first arrested for his posts in October 2005, at which time he was detained for 12 days and forced to surrender his books and some personal articles and writings. In March 2006, Kareem was expelled from Al-Azahar University because of his posts. (For more information on the expulsion, see the CMLP database entry, Al-Azhar University v. Abdul Kareem Nabeel.)

Al-Azhar informed the Public Prosecutor's Office in Alexandria of Kareem's writings. On November 06, 2006, Kareem was arrested. When he refused to recant, he was held in solitary confinement until he could face trial. He was charged with three basic crimes: contempt for religion (both generally and Islam in particular), defaming President Mubarak, and disrupting public order.

On Feb. 22, 2007 in Maharram Beik Court, after what reports have described as only five minutes of consideration, Kareem was was sentenced to four years in prison for his speech -- three years for contempt of religion and one year for defaming Mubarak. The charges relating to alleged disruptions of public order were dropped.

On March 12, 2007, the Court of Appeals in Alexandria upheld Kareem's conviction and four-year sentence. The court also approved a civil claim brought by a group of Egyptian lawyers seeking to fine Kareem for "insulting Islam."

Status:

Several sources, including freekareem.org, have reported that Kareem's lawyers intend to appeal the case to the Court of Cassation, Egypt's highest appeals court.

Content Type: 

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CMLP Notes: 

Details are sketchy due to lack of available court documents. Continue to monitor on (theoretical) appeal. {MCS 09/14/07}

Status checked on 6/3/2008, no new information (AAB)

Status checked on 2/19/2009 -VAF  (no new information re: a possible appeal)

 

Jurisdiction: 

Al-Azhar University v. Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suliman

Threat Type: 

Disciplinary Action

Date: 

03/14/2006

Party Receiving Legal Threat: 

Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suliman, a.k.a. Kareem Amer

Type of Party: 

School

Type of Party: 

Individual

Publication Medium: 

Blog

Status: 

Concluded

Disposition: 

Verdict (plaintiff)

Description: 

Egyptian law student Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suliman ("Kareem"), using the psuedonym Kareem Amer, posted a series of articles critizing the Islamic faith, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Al-Azhar University to his blog and websites, Modern Discussion and Copts United. Some of his posts critized the operations of Al-Azhar, where he was then a student, for its allegedly strict religious policies and gender discrimination. In October 2005 he was arrested and detained by Egyptian police for his postings, but he ultimately was released without criminal charge.

On March 14, 2006, Kareem was called before a discipinary panel at Al-Azhar University, Damanhour Campus. According to Kareem's blog (partially translated into English), he was accused of defaming the university and libeling the Grand Imam (the head of the Supreme Council that runs Al-Azhar). Kareem did not deny that he had written the posts and did not apologize, instead asserting a right to critize the university. Days later, Kareem was expelled from Al-Azhar.

The university submitted copies of Kareem's blog posts to the Egyptian government, which ultimately led to criminal charges being brought against him. In Feb. 2007, Kareem was sentenced to four years in prison. (For more information and continuing developments, see the CMLP database entry, Egypt v. Abdul Kareem Nabeel Suliman).

Subject Area: 

Jurisdiction: 

Content Type: 

YouTube Suspends Account of Prominent Egyptian Blogger and Anti-Torture Activist

I've blogged before about Wael Abbas, an Egyptian blogger and political activist who has gained renown by, among other things, posting videos on YouTube revealing brutal scenes of torture from inside Egypt's police stations.

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Bloggers Expose Torture in Egypt

The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting article today about Egyptian bloggers posting cell phone videos to document endemic police torture in their country (thanks to 3arabawy for the tip). The most recent iteration of this phenomenon is a clip of a thirteen-year-old boy from Mansoura who died from injuries inflicted in police custody after he was arrested for stealing a few bags of tea a week earlier:

The explicit 13-minute clip is the latest of some dozen amateur videos - mostly from cell phone cameras - that have surfaced on blogs within the past year, showing systematic torture in Egyptian police stations. The videos have thrust a once rarely mentioned subject onto the front pages of Cairo newspapers.

Some activists hope the incriminating videos will spur a wave of reforms within the justice system.

"Activists that have worked to end torture have told me: 'You've done more in a few days what we were not able to do in 10 years,'" said Wael Abbas, a 32-year-old Egyptian blogger, who recently received the 2007 Knight International Journalism Award by the International Center for Journalists in Washington for posting police torture videos on his Web site.

It's encouraging to see the continued influence of bloggers on the mainstream press in Egypt, but it's been rough couple of month for journalists and activists of every stripe. If you're interested, the Christian Science Monitor has some informative reports on the recent crackdown (here and here).

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Riz Khan of Al-Jazeera English Interviews Egyptian Blogger Wael Abbas

This interview of Wael Abbas sheds some light on the legal and political climate for bloggers in Egypt. While Wael has not been detained by the Egyptian security forces for his blogging, the government has put him under surveillance and harassed him and his family, both electronically and otherwise. He says that one of his biggest fears is "somebody filing a lawsuit against [him], accusing [him] of defaming Egypt or spreading false rumors -- the usual stuff that is used against journalists in Egypt."

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