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Egypt’s military pardons bloggers involved in planning riots

Alec Jacobs Contributor
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Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces announced on its Facebook page it would pardon an Egyptian blogger who had been charged with defaming the army and inciting armed violence, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports.

The council, which has governed Egypt since former president Hosni Mubarak’s February resignation, said it was dropping its complaint against the blogger, Asmaa Mahfouz, but made sure to call “on all Egyptians to express their opinions in a responsible way without defamation.” (Egyptian political unrest highlights need for more American energy production)

IndexOnCensorship.org writes that the council made its decision because Mahfouz and another activist, Louai Nagati, “were pardoned because they were in a revolutionary mood that had affected their actions.”

The council had previously referred Mahfouz, 27, to a military court. That referral was met with overwhelming criticism from local and international human rights groups.

Mahfouz was released on bail last week. When she got home, she posted a clear message on her own Facebook page: “After what I have seen and heard today, I will continue on the same track. Down with military rule!”

Many Egyptians active in the protests were happy to hear the news, and took to the Internet to commend the council’s decision. One Facebook user said that though the protesters’ work isn’t yet done, “what matters … is that the council is rethinking its repressive policies.” Others were skeptical, given the Facebook posting from the council warning activists to be careful to express views in a manner that wouldn’t be offensive.

Mahfouz is a co-founder of the April 6 Movement, an online movement started in 2008 to promote Egyptian democracy through protests. She’s also credited with helping to spark the anti-Mubarak riots that spread across Egypt earlier this year, ultimately culminating in Mubarak’s resignation.