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How Egypt, U.S. got all a-Twitter over Cal student

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Egypt
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How Egypt, U.S. got all a-Twitter over Cal student

One-word text message helped release James Buck from jail

By William Brand, STAFF WRITER

Article Launched: 04/16/2008 02:36:14 AM PDT

BERKELEY — When Egyptian police scooped up University of California, Berkeley, graduate journalism student James Karl Buck, who was photographing a noisy demonstration, and dumped him in a jail cell last week, they didn't count on Twitter.

Buck, 29, a former Oakland Tribune multimedia intern, used the ubiquitous short messaging service to tap out a single word on his cellular phone: ARRESTED.

The message went out to the cell phones and computers of a wide circle of friends in the United States and to the mostly leftist, anti-government

bloggers in Egypt who are the subject of his graduate journalism project.

The next day, Buck walked out a free man with an Egyptian attorney hired by the university at his side and the U.S. Embassy on the phone.

Twitter, the micro-blogging service for cell phone users, allows messages up to 140 characters long. Twitter users can allow anyone they wish to join their network and receive all their messages. Buck has a large network, so Twitter gave him an instant link to the outside world.

He recalls advice from his Twitter friends came in mounds of terse messages.

"It was a combination of things. My Egyptian friends told me to play the 'American (card)' and try to force my way out," Buck said. They also told him that it was no big deal and to just stay calm.

Meanwhile, U.S. friends on his Twitter net called the university and the American Embassy. They also alerted the Associated Press, the International Herald Tribune and other media, which helped put the heat on the Egyptian authorities. He was released Friday and returned home Sunday.

Back home in Berkeley on Monday, he said he's worried about his interpreter and friend, Mohammed Salah Ahmed Maree, who was arrested with him and is still being held incommunicado by Egyptian authorities. Unlike Buck, he didn't have the muscle of the U.S. Embassy and UC Berkeley behind him.

He said Maree, who is 23 and a veterinary medicine student, is from Mahalla El-Kobra, the industrial city in the Nile Delta where they were arrested. Buck said he's called on the Egyptian government to free Maree.

"I believe he's totally innocent," Buck said.

At 10 a.m. Friday, Buck and others plan a demonstration supporting Maree outside the Egyptian consulate, 3101 Pacific Ave., in San Francisco.

Hossam El-Hamalawy, an Egyptian blogger who is now a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley, said the most important thing is to publicize the situation so Egypt will furnish information about where Maree and others arrested are being kept.

"Egypt has a huge population of prisoners because of these security crackdowns and any information will also help their families and lawyers, who are trying to find them," he said.

There is an online petition to support the release of Mohammed Salah Ahmed Maree:Petition

Source


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Filed: K-3 Visa Country: Kuwait
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Oh wow, I will sign the petition, I hate to hear this, thanks for sharing this with us. :thumbs:


A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.

Eleanor Roosevelt

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Egypt
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I just signed the petition myself making it 94 signatures. Maybe I should pass around the petition to my journalist friends? Poor guy. :unsure:

Oh wow, I will sign the petition, I hate to hear this, thanks for sharing this with us. :thumbs:

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