Egypt: Jailed blogger released, but still criticized for views

The World

It's official: Maikel Nabil, a blogger jailed for months by Egypt's military rulers and who approached death with his severe hunger strike, is free. 

He was released from Tora prison earlier tonight after the country's de-facto leader, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, on Saturday pardoned Nabil and nearly 2,000 other prisoners convicted in controversial military trials. 

Previously, prison officials told Nabil's friends and family that he would not be released until after Jan. 25, 2012, the first anniversary of the beginning of Egypt's uprising last year, perhaps in fear that his emancipation would galvanize protests. 

More from GlobalPost: Egyptian blogger still in prison, despite pardon

Nabil, an outspoken and self-described "pro-Israel" liberal and atheist, was arrested in March after writing a blog post (Arabic) titled "The army and the people were never one hand." He spent 10 months in jail, much of it in solitary confinement, for "insulting the military." 

But Nabil and his controversial views, particularly on Israel, do not even find refuge among some of the most progressive of revolutionary activists here.

Many of those working to halt the trial of civilians in military courts welcomed the news of Nabil's release as a victory for their campaign, even if they disagree with his politics. (Many Egyptians still view Israel as their enemy, despite a formal peace treaty). 

More from GlobalPost: Military tribunals: A continuing crackdown on Egypt’s revolution

Others made clear that their sympathy for his plight only went so far, despite billing themselves as advocates of free speech. 

"He is a zionist, my support for him ends when he is finally released," Alaa Abd El Fattah Alaa, himself imprisoned under military law but who was released on Dec. 25, 2011, tweeted on Saturday. 

"I wonder what #MaikelNabil would think about the six soldiers in #Sinai who were killed by #Israel," Ahmad H. Aggour, an Egyptian activist tweeting under @Psypherize, said tonight. 

Another anonymous activist, using the Twitter handle @TheBigPharaoh, also posted: "I don't think #maikelnabil would have been released if it wasn't for int'l exposure. Only firm believers in free speech supported locally."

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