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YouTube shuts down Egyptian anti-torture activist's account

  • Story Highlights
  • Human rights activist Wael Abbas posted videos of police torture on YouTube
  • He says YouTube suspended his account, citing complaints about material
  • YouTube won't comment on individual videos, but says graphic violence not allowed
  • Abbas says he's in shock because YouTube deleted videos he'd saved for years
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CAIRO, Egypt (CNN) -- An Egyptian human rights activist who posted videos about police abuse says YouTube has shut down his account because of complaints that the videos contain "inappropriate material."

Egyptian human rights activist and blogger Wael Abbas says YouTube has suspended his account.

Wael Abbas, an award-winning anti-torture watchdog, told CNN on Wednesday that there have been 100 videos posted on his account containing images of torture, police brutality, demonstrations, strikes, sit-ins and election irregularities.

Now, material he had posted is no longer available on the popular video-sharing Web site, he said.

Abbas said YouTube sent him an e-mail saying they had suspended his account.

"They didn't ask me to remove it. They said 'Your account isn't working,' " he said. Video Watch Abbas' complaints about YouTube »

When asked about Abbas, a YouTube spokesperson said, "We take these matters very seriously, but we don't comment on individual videos."

YouTube regulations state that "graphic or gratuitous violence" is not allowed and violations of the Terms of Use could result in the ending of an account and deleting all of the videos in it.

"YouTube prohibits inappropriate content on the site, and our community effectively polices the site for inappropriate material," the spokesperson said. "Users can flag content that they feel is inappropriate and once it is flagged it is reviewed by our staff and removed from the system within minutes if it violates our Community Guidelines or Terms of Use. We also disable the accounts of repeat offenders."

Abbas agreed that some of the videos were "graphic," but said strong images underscore the issue of abuse and make an "impact on public opinion."

He said the graphic images he posted had an impact like the photos and videos of Abu Ghraib prison that emerged in 2004 showing mistreatment of detainees by U.S. troops and stoking international outrage.

"We managed to direct the attention of the people to something that was taboo, something that was never discussed before, which is police brutality and torture inside police stations," said Abbas, referring to his videos.

The 33-year-old Abbas also operates one of Egypt's best known blogs, misrdigital.com, which owes its popularity in part to its frequent postings about police abuse.

In one prominent incident, Abbas posted a video on his blog of a police officer binding and sodomizing an Egyptian bus driver who intervened in a dispute between police and another driver.

The video was one of the factors that led to the conviction of two police officers, who were sentenced to three years each in connection with the incident.

"It's the first time Egyptian people saw something like that," Abbas said, referring to beatings and torture. "It was a shock to the Egyptian people."

The blogger, who said he's in a "state of shock" because he lost videos he's uploaded for years, said he might resort to campaigning against YouTube.

"We thought that YouTube was our ally," Abbas said. "It helped show the truth in countries like Burma. ... With what they did now, it doesn't seem like that anymore," he said.

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Abbas said he has also had a problem with Yahoo! because it shut down two of his e-mail accounts, accusing him of being a spammer.

The International Center for Journalists recently awarded a Knight International Journalism Award to Abbas for his work. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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