Freed Student Uses Twitter to Demand Translator’s Release

As NowPublic reported in April, James Karl Buck used Twitter to extricate himself from an Egyptian jail. Although he was freed, his translator and friend, Mohammed Maree, who was arrested along with Buck, remains behind bars.

Now Buck is using his newfound Twitter popularity to help bring attention to Maree’s plight, with the hopes of assisting in his release.

An American student who used a microblog site to free himself from an Egyptian jail is harnessing the Web’s power again — this time to demand the release of his translator. art.mohammed.maree.jpgJames Karl Buck was released from a Mahalla jail after sending a one-word blog post from his cell phone through the Twitter Web site. The message — “Arrested” — alerted all of his friends on the site of his detention. var CNN_ArticleChanger = new CNN_imageChanger(‘cnnImgChngr’,’/2008/TECH/06/05/twitter.maree/imgChng/p1-0.init.exclude.html’,1,1);//CNN.imageChanger.load(‘cnnImgChngr’,’imgChng/p1-0.exclude.html’);

Twitter, a social-networking blog site, allows users to send status updates, or “tweets,” from cell phones, instant messaging services and Facebook in less than 140 characters.

Buck, a graduate student then working on a photography project in Egypt for his master’s thesis, met Maree, a 23-year-old Egyptian veterinary student, in Mahalla. Maree offered to help Buck as he photographed local anti-government protests over low wages and rising food prices.

Back in the United States, Buck has taken it upon himself to further capitalize on the power of his Twitter network, which is now more than 570 followers strong, to help free his translator and friend.

Fueled by the gnawing guilt of leaving Maree behind, Buck set out to enlist all of the help he could in hopes of sparking a movement for his release.

He began setting up a virtual online command post to demand Maree’s release. He used everything from Twitter updates, blog posts on his own Web site to an electronic petition signed by more than 900 people.

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