A blogger convicted of insulting Islam and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has had his appeal upheld by an Egyptian court.

Karim Suleiman was sentenced last month to 4 years in prison, becoming the first Egyptian to be jailed for voicing his opinion on the internet. Rights groups have condemned the verdict as a threat to free speech.

On his blog Suleiman had compared companions of the Prophet Mohammad to terrorists and president Hosni Mubarak to ancient Egyptian dictatorial Pharaohs. In court yesterday he did not deny writing the articles and confirmed that they represented his views.

One of Suleiman’s lawyers, Ahmed Seif al-Islam, said the lower court’s ruling was based on vaguely worded articles in the penal code which did not justify the sentence. The defence team intend to take the case to Egypt’s highest appeals court, the Court of Cassation.