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Viewing cable 09CAIRO134, IMPRISONED QURANIST BLOGGER RELEASED

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09CAIRO134 2009-01-26 14:02 2011-02-16 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Cairo
VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0134 0261458
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 261458Z JAN 09
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1467
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 000134 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DRL/NESA FOR BERGLAND; NSC STAFF FOR PASCUAL 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2029 
TAGS: PHUM PGOV PREL KIRF KISL EG
SUBJECT: IMPRISONED QURANIST BLOGGER RELEASED 
 
REF: A. 1/22/2009 BERGLAND/WHITE EMAIL B. CAIRO 1855 Classified By: Minister-Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs William R. Stewart for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 1.(C) Summary: Quranist blogger Reda Abdelrahman was released from an Egyptian prison on January 22 after nearly three months in detention. Because Abdelrahman is no longer in prison and the GoE apparently does not intend to prosecute him, we do not believe it appropriate to provide legal defense funds to Abdelrahman through the DRL-managed Global Human Rights Defenders Fund. Moreover, the Egyptian human rights NGO that has heretofore provided Abdelrahman's legal defense has publicly stated that it does not accept USG funding and would undoubtedly be embarrassed and angered by any disclosure that it had, even unwittingly, accepted such funds. End Summary. --------------------- Abdelrahman's Release --------------------- 2.(C) On January 22, Egypt's Ministry of Interior released Reda Abdelrahman, an Egyptian blogger and member of the heterodox Islamic Quranist movement, who was arrested on October 27, 2008, reportedly for "insulting Islam." The Supreme State Security Court, which acts under authority of Egypt's decades old Emergency Law, ordered Abdelrahman's release on January 6. Lawyer Adel Ramadan of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a well-respected human rights NGO involved in Abdelrahman's defense, told us on January 25 that he believes the MoI will not pursue the case and he anticipates no further legal proceedings. He added, however, that the MoI will probably keep the case open to maintain pressure on Abdelrahman. (Note: The Quranist movement is a small heterodox Islamic group that looks to the Quran as the sole source for Islamic law and rejects reliance on the Hadith. The leader of the Quranist movement, Ahmed Sobhy Mansour, is an Egyptian national based in Washington and is reportedly Abdelrahman's uncle. Egyptian security forces arrested five Quranists in 2007, held them for several months and then released them without formal charges (ref B). The group is not well-known by most Egyptians. End note.) ----------------------------- Global Defenders Fund Support ----------------------------- 3.(C) Because of these developments, Post does not support the recent nomination of Abdelrahman to receive $3500 from the Global Human Rights Defenders Fund to finance his legal defense (ref A). As requested, we have reviewed local records and are aware of no information that would disqualify Abdelrahman from receiving such support. However, Abdelrahman was recently released, and, because his lawyer does not foresee additional legal proceedings, it does not appear that Abdelrahman is in need of such support. 4.(C) Moreover, EIPR, which has been providing Abdelrahman's legal representation, refuses, as a matter of principle, to accept USG funding. While Post understands the Department's arrangements with NGO partners in the Global Defenders Fund not to reveal the USG source of any funds disbursed, we believe it likely that Egypt's security services will ultimately discover the USG's involvement. This would be a source of great embarrassment to the EIPR, and could jeopardize the Mission's relationship and future cooperation with the organization, which is involved in a wide-range of religious freedom and human rights issues, including representing members of Egypt's Baha'i minority in their quest for full citizenship rights. SCOBEY