In a troubling sign for Egypt's fledgling democracy movement, one of the country's political bloggers has been sentenced to three years in jail. Maikel Nabil, 26, was found guilty of "insulting the military" and publishing false information on Monday. Nabil's lawyer told the AFP the verdict was handed down without lawyers present and "almost in secret." Last Sunday Human Rights Watch called for the charges to be dropped, saying the trial "sets a dangerous precedent at a time when Egypt is trying to transition away from the abuses of the Mubarak era." Abdel Ramadan, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said the repressive aspects of former president Hosni Mubarak's reign were returning. "Nabil was put on trial according to article 184 of the penal code; the same article that was used during Mubarak's era to oppress opposition voices," he told the Daily News Egypt. "We trusted the military judges but obviously we were wrong."
For Arabic speakers, Nabil's Twitter account is still viewable here, though he has not tweeted since March 28. His blog is hosted here with the optional Google Translate feature. An outpouring of support is surfacing for Nabil on Twitter under the hashtag #MaikelNabil. Arab affairs commentator Mona Eltahawy says Nabil was an easy target because his criticism of the army made him unpopular. A petition protesting the sentence is circulating saying Nabil's only crime was "writing a critical post ... about the atrocities that happened when military police arrested, detained, tortured and even sexually abused detainees in the last two months after taking over power."