Egyptian blogger rearrested after release order

Student author of 'Matabbat' blog continues to suffer state harrassment.

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By  AFP Published  August 23, 2008

An Egyptian blogger held a month ago and issued with a release order this week has been rearrested, rights groups said on Saturday.

Media student Mohammed Refaat "is being held under the hateful emergency law," the Arabic Network for Human Rights and the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre said in a statement.

Refaat, who runs the blog "Matabbat" (Speedbumps), was first detained on July 21 after police raided his home and confiscated his computer, the groups said.

"He was accused of offending state institutions, destabilising public security and inciting demonstrations and strikes via the Internet," the groups said.

"State Security decided to release him on August 17... but an order to arrest him was issued under the state emergency law," they added.

On his website, Refaat describes himself as an "Egyptian Muslim who dreams of seeing my nation free, and I'm working on my dream through media."

Police have arrested several bloggers in recent months, in an indication of their growing political importance in Egypt.

Despite the Internet explosion, the cyber realm remains largely the preserve of the young and educated in a country where 40 percent of the population of 80 million people cannot read.

With little access to live and independent Egyptian reporting, blogs and "real time" social networking sites such as Twitter provide regular but unverified updates on events.

The state of emergency was imposed in 1981 after the assassination by Islamists of president Anwar Sadat, and has been repeatedly renewed since then despite protests from rights groups and regime opponents.

It has been widely criticised for granting security forces sweeping powers of arrest and restricting non-government political activity.

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