Several days after pulling the plug on the website of Egyptian blogger, Wael Abbas, YouTube has told Arab Media & Society that it is restoring Abbas’ account. The video website, recently purchased by Google, cancelled Abbas’ service earlier this week without notice. The apparent reason was that the torture videos violated the site’s prohibition on graphic violence. Abbas is best-known for posting dramatic video of Egyptian police sodomizing a Cairo taxi driver with a nightstick, among other examples of official torture and abuse. The video was quickly seen on news broadcasts and websites around the world, sparking a major debate in Egypt over the issue of official torture. Two policemen involved in the this week received prison sentences in the taxi driver’s case.
Contacted about the decision to silence Abbas, a spokesman for YouTube issued the following statement:
“We are committed to preserving YouTube as an important platform for expression of all kinds, while also ensuring that the site remains a safe environment for our users. Balancing these interests raises very tough issues. In this case, our general policy against graphic violence led to the removal of videos documenting alleged human rights abuses because the context was not apparent. Having reviewed the case, we have restored the account of Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas - and if he chooses to upload the video again with sufficient context so that users can understand his important message we will of course leave it on the site."
Abbas was travelling to an Internet conference in Mexico and could not be reached for comment.