Human rights group files complaint against telecom chiefs for blackout

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) yesterday filed a complaint with the prosecutor general demanding an investigation into both the minister of communications, and chairman of the National Telecommunications Authority's criminal role in harming and killing demonstrators by cutting off internet and telecommunication services in Egypt.

Demonstrators in Tahrir Square, including ANHRI’s team were surprised on the evening of January 25 by the interruption of telecommunications services, which the group says caused financial consequences and caused their families to panic. Cell phone service was cut for a day, with limited service after that for weeks in Tahrir Square, and internet was also down for more than five days, exposing protesters to deadly risks as those who were injured were unable to get immediate medical attention. Many died because they could not reach hospitals, said The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information in a statement on Thursday.

The statement pointed out that internet providers harmed citizens in Egypt, including the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information by impeding their work, which relies heavily on the internet.

"The criminality of telecommunications companies and ISPs during the revolution of  25 January did not stop at the violation of the right of citizens to communicate and their right to freedom of expression and breaching the terms of contract with the citizens, but criminality extended  to participation in the siege of peaceful demonstrators and the deliberate denial of medical aid, which holds them criminally responsible and the prosecutor general has to open an urgent investigation so that criminals will not enjoy impunity,” said the statement.

The group called for the disclosure of the name of the official who ordered the service cuts and whether this order was written, saying a written order would demonstrate the extent of criminal liability.

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