North Cairo Misdemeanour Court rejected on Saturday an appeal request against the two-year prison sentence of detained novelist Ahmed Nagy.
In February Nagy was sentenced to two years in prison after an initial acquittal over charges of publishing and writing an article with “obscene sexual content”. The court also ordered the editor of Akhbar Al-Adab to pay a EGP 10,000 fine for publishing Nagy’s article.
Defence lawyer Ahmed Osman told Daily News Egypt that the session was the first of its kind since Nagy’s arrest, in a bid to stop the verdict. Despite the possibility of filing another request to stop the verdict, the defence team has not yet considered such an action, he added.
However, he said that an appeal request was submitted and the court of appeals did not yet schedule a session for it.
He further noted some recent amendments that were made to the penal code earlier in 2016. Those amendments state that all appealed verdicts by the misdemeanour court will be reviewed by a criminal judicial circuit court in October. This is a new way of presenting appeals, the lawyer said.
Nagy’s arrest sparked widespread concerns from journalists, intellectuals, and public figures who called for solidarity with Nagy and other writers and scholars who have been legally prosecuted due to the content of their work.
A blogging campaign was launched on 13 July until Saturday, the session date, in solidarity with Nagy. The campaign argues that freedom of creativity and expression is a basic human right, and there are many articles in the Egyptian penal code that potentially criminalise artists, in contradiction with the 2014 Constitution.
Articles 47 and 67 of the 2014 Constitution protect the right of freedom of expression in arts and entertainment and prohibit the government from arresting artists to enforce state censorship policies.