Egyptian Blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah Releases Letter From Prison

Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah released a letter from prison last week revealing details about his month-long incarceration. After the October 9 demonstration in Cairo, the most violent clash between the state and civilians since Hosni Mubarak was ousted, the government arrested Fattah on charges that he incited violence between Egyptian military forces and Coptic Christians that left 28 people dead. The government also claims that Fattah assaulted military personnel and vandalized military property. Along with Fattah, other anti-government activists were taken into custody.

Last week, Fattah managed to smuggle a letter to the press from his prison cell. The letter was first published in the Egyptian newspaper Shorouk on November 2, and The Guardian then posted an English translated version. In the letter, Fattah expresses his shock at being incarcerated after the overthrow of Mubarak: "I did not expect that the very same experience would be repeated after five years, after a revolution in which we have ousted the tyrant, I go back to jail?" He also criticizes the "flimsy" charges on which the military forces arrested him, saying:

I am locked up, again pending trial, again on a set of loose and flimsy charges — the one difference is that instead of the state security prosecutor we have the military prosecutor — a change in keeping with the military moment we're living now.

Fattah's mother Laila Soueif has recently begun a hunger strike in protest of her son's arrest. According to the Huffington Post, since going on strike, Soueif has only been consuming water, tea, and cigarettes. In an interview with Associated Press, she said, "I am good so far. My blood pressure is stable, but I will continue the hunger strike until Alaa is freed."

The military has expanded its crackdown on civilian activity in the country, according to Democracy Now. In attempts to stifle the protest movement that toppled Mubarak's regime, military forces are taking extra measures to ban oppositional voices in the media and control media leaders.