The United States on Thursday urged Egypt’s interim military rulers to reconsider a military court’s verdict to jail a blogger for two years after he criticized the army, as a group of Egyptian activists said that a mass food poisoning of sit-in protesters outside the cabinet building Wednesday night was an “elimination process” for the revolution.
“We are very concerned about reports that the military court has again sentenced (Michael Nabil) to prison for criticizing the Egyptian Armed Forces,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.
“Civilians ought to be tried in civilian courts,” she said, according to AFP.
“We continue to urge the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to reconsider this verdict and we call on the government to protect the universal rights of all Egyptian citizens, including the right to free expression,” she said.
An Egyptian military court sentenced Nabil to two years in prison on Wednesday after he went on a hunger strike to protest an initial three-year sentence.
Nabil, who had criticized the ruling military on his blog and called on people to avoid the draft, had been sentenced to three years in April in a widely criticized trial.
Meanwhile, the April 6 Movement said in a statement on Thursday that the mass food-poisoning of sit-in protesters outside the cabinet building Wednesday night was not a coincidence, Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm reported.
Some 40 activists involved in what is known as the Occupy Cabinet sit-in were transferred to hospitals Wednesday after being allegedly poisoned by free food handed out in the afternoon, the report carried out by the Egyptian daily said.
A woman in her 40s, wearing a long coat and trousers distributed the ‘hawawshy’ bread (Egyptian bread filled with baked minced beef) to protesters camped outside the cabinet in downtown Cairo, an eyewitness told Egypt’s private al-Mehwar TV on Wednesday. “She was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer car,” he said.
There were unconfirmed reports that a 19-year-old activist died of food-poisoning after reaching the hospital.
The April 6 Movement described the incident as part of an “elimination process” for the revolution. The process, the statement went on, started with military trials for revolutionaries, and developed into killing Maspero protesters, using lethal tear gas canisters against protesters on Mohammed Mahmoud Street and finally attempting to poison the cabinet protesters.
In a statement published on its Facebook page, the movement wondered: “Who are the ‘invisible hands’ who will be held responsible this time, and for how long will these ‘invisible hands’ continue threatening the security of Egypt and the young revolutionaries?”
(Additional writing by Abeer Tayel)