Interior Ministry's "videogate" takes a new turn

Egypt's torture scandal is getting increasing international coverage thanks to the fact that a) it was caught on video and b) it was blogged: FT, Le Monde, Le Figaro, and others are covering the scandal, which has taken a turn for the worse yesterday with al-Jazeera reporter Howeida Taha arrested as she was leaving the country with tapes for a documentary on torture. The tapes included some reconstruction of torture scenes -- a standard tool in documentary film-making -- but of course security is accusing her of fabricating lies about Egypt's sensitive, gentle police officers. So alarmed are some bloggers who covered the scandal from the beginning -- such as our own Hossam el-Hamalawy, who has his thoughts on these developments here -- that late last night I received an email from Wael Abbas, the one-man photo and video news agency of the Egyptian blogosphere, with the subject line "I might get arrested tomorrow!" We've been warned.

In the meantime, we note the predictable petty vindictiveness of the regime in the way it has decided to reward the whistle-blower and victim of this affair, Emad al-Kebir, by sentencing him to three months of prison for "resisting the authorities" -- yes, the same authorities that beat and raped him in custody. HRW has the details.

I sure am glad I live in a "moderate" Arab country, Ms. Rice.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.