Health Ministry denies referring activist to mental hospital

A senior official at the Health Ministry has denied that activist and blogger Maikel Nabil was referred to the Abbasseya Mental Hospital.

“The statement by the Psychiatric Health Authority’s media department about admitting Nabil in the hospital is untrue," said Mohamed al-Sherbiny, the ministry spokesman, adding that the ministry will investigate the authority for its statement.

On 28 March, Maikel Nabil, a Coptic Christian, was arrested by military police on charges of spreading false information about Egypt's military. Later, Nabil was sentenced to three years prison by a military tribunal.

Nabil was the first blogger to be sentenced for his writing since the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February. His case drew criticism from rights groups around the world.

He went on hunger strike on 23 August to protest against his conviction.

Following the killing of at least 27 Coptic protestors by the military on 9 October, the Supreme Military Court of Appeals accepted an appeal for the blogger to be re-tried.

However, on Saturday, the news website AINA quoted Mark Nabil, Maikel's brother, as saying that his brother was transferred to “a mental health hospital, to ascertain whether he is responsible for his actions.”

Sherbiny said: “Referring activists to mental hospitals is utterly unacceptable… It reminds one of the dark ages of humanity when they were isolated there from society.”

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