Imprisoned Christian Journalist To Face Blasphemy Charges in Egypt

ICC Note: Bishoy Armia is facing charges of blasphemy and insulting religion for converting to Christianity some seven years ago. The Egyptian Christian has been held since 2013, first on charges of reporting false news, and now on suspicion of blasphemy. Bishoy gained attention in 2009 when he attempted to publicly change his religion on his ID card and was prevented by the government.

04/27/2015 Egypt (Egypt Daily News) A journalist imprisoned for “spreading false news” in 2013 now faces blasphemy charges, on accusations relating to his conversion to Christianity over seven years ago, according to his defence lawyer.

Beshoy Armia, formerly known as Mohamed Hegazy, was sentenced by the Minya Misdemeanour Court to five years imprisonment in 2013. He had been covering Muslim Brotherhood protests that took place following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi.

According to Armia’s lawyer Karam Ghobrial, his client was originally convicted of broadcasting false information and promoting sectarian strife. It was alleged he produced video footage of “sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians in Minya for a foreign television channel”.

An appeal submitted by Ghobrial successfully reduced the prison sentence from five years to one year in prison. However, on the day Minya Criminal Court approved Armia for release he was detained leaving the court room by National Security who referred him to State Security Prosecution in Cairo.

Armia’s lawyer told Daily News Egypt that State Security – who usually are tasked with cases of espionage and terrorism – produced charges they say date back from 2009.

The charges are claimed to be a legal complaint submitted by two lawyers who maintain that the manner in which Armia converted to Christianity from Islam was blasphemous and “insulting to religion”.

Since December, Armia has been held pending investigations before a court date. According to Ghorbrial, State Security intend to keep him until 10 May, the maximum six-month period they are legally entitled to before he should be referred to court.

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