Egypt: Open Air Prison for Critics
The Egyptian authorities are using absurd reasons to imprison critics under the pretext of “counter-terrorism."
The crackdown on freedom of expression under Egyptian President Abdelfattah al-Sisi has reached its worst ever level in recent memory with its unprecedented severity.
It is currently more dangerous to criticize the government in Egypt than at any time in the country’s recent history. Egyptians living under President al-Sisi are treated as criminals simply for peacefully express their views. The security services have been unrelenting in their closure of any remaining political or social or even cultural independent spaces. These measures have tuned Egypt into an open-air prison for critics.
Over the course of 2018, Egyptian authorities have arrested at least 111 individuals for absurd reasons, including satire, tweeting, supporting football clubs denouncing sexual harassment, editing movies, doing interviews, giving interviews, and even for doing nothing. The authorities are accusing them of “membership in terrorist groups” and of “disseminating false news”. The authorities have been keeping them detained without trial for months, and for those who faced trial, they were sentenced by a military court.
Adel Sabry - Imprisoned for managing an independent media platform
Adel Sabry (55) is the editor in chief of Misr Al-Arabia news website. Security forces raided and shut down the office of Misr Al Arabia news website in April 2018 and arrested its editor in chief, Adel Sabry in relation to the website’s critical' coverage of the human rights and political situation in Egypt. Prosecutor ordered his detention on charges of "membership in a terrorist group" and "publishing false information for the purpose of harming national security".
On 4 October, the Supreme State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Adel Sabri for 15 days. On 17 October the Supreme State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Adel Sabri for another 15 days
Ahmed Tarek - Imprisoned for editing a movie
Ahmed Tarek (23) is a video editor. He was arrested at his home by National Security Agents in February 2018, because of his work editing a documentary on the achievements and failures of President Abdelfattah al-Sisi. Currently detained while being investigated on charges of “membership in a banned group and “publishing false information."
On 24 November, the South Cairo Criminal Court extended the pretrial detention of Ahmed Tarek for 45 days pending investigations in case 467 of 2018.
Amal Fathy - Imprisoned for denouncing sexual harassment
Amal Fathy (34) posted a video on Facebook criticizing the government for failing to address sexual harassment. In May 2018, police raided Amal’s home in the middle of the night and detained her, along with her husband and young child. Her family was released, but Amal remains in prison and faces charges including “publishing a video that includes false news that could harm public peace”.
On 29 September, the Maadi Misdamenour court sentenced Amal Fathy to two years in prison and a fine of 10,000 EGP (560 USD). The bail to temporarily suspend her sentence was set at 20,000 EGP (1,120 USD). The first appeals hearing is set for 25 November. On her second case, the State Security prosecutor renewed the detention of Amal Fathy for 15 more days on 14 October. Her Lawyer appealed the decision. On 25 November, the Maadi Misdemeanor Appeal Court set 30 December as the date for issuing the verdict in Amal Fathy’s case number 7991 of 2018 in which she is being charged with “spreading false news”, “possession of indecent material”, and “use of insulting language
Hassan al-Bana - Imprisoned for walking with his friend
Hassan al-Bana (26) is a journalist, arrested in February 2018 from the street along with his colleague Moustafa al-Aasar. Prosecutors ordered his detention on charges of "joining a banned group" and "publishing false information for the purpose of harming national security" solely because he was with Mostafa al-Aasar at the time he was arrested. On 3 October, The Giza Criminal Court decided to renew Hassan al-Banna's detention for 45 days. On 3 October, Giza Criminal Court renewed the detention of Hassan al-Banna for an additional 45 days, pending further investigations.On 17 November, the Cairo Criminal Court renewed the remand of Hassan Al-Banna for 45 days pending case 441 of 2018.
Haytham Mohamadeen - Imprisoned because of his history of activism
Haytham Mohamdeen is a labour and human rights lawyer. He was arrested from his home in May 2018 and charged with “joining a terrorist group, inciting unauthorized protests and disrupting public facilities” because of his suspected involvement in a protest against the rising price of metro tickets. On 26 September, the Supreme State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Haytham Mohamadeen for 15 days. On 8 October, the Supreme State Security Prosecution appealed a decision to conditionally release Haytham Mohamadeen issued by the Giza Criminal Court earlier that day. On 10 October, the Giza Criminal Court rejected the State Security's appeal confirming the release decision of Haytham Mohamadeen on probabtion. Haytham Mohamadeen was released on 30 October.
Hisham Genena - Imprisoned for giving an interview
Hisham Genena (63) is a former top auditor and anti-corruption official, who was sacked after exposing massive government corruption. In January 2018, he gave an interview where he publicly supported a Presidential candidate against President Abdelfatah al-Sisi. Soon after, he was badly beaten outside his home. He was then arrested in February and is serving a 5 years prison sentence, after an unfair military trial.
On 5 December, a Military Court postponed the hearing on the appeal of Hisham Geneina's five-year sentence to 30 December.
Moataz Wadnan - Imprisoned for doing an interview
Moataz Wadnan (37) is a journalist. On 16 February, security forces arrested him because of an interview he had conducted with former senior anti-graft official Hisham Genina in which the latter criticized the authorities’ interference in the presidential elections. Prosecutors ordered Wadnan’s detention on charges of "membership in a terrorist group" and "publishing false information for the purpose of harming national security". On 9 October, the Cairo Criminal Court renewed the detention of Moaraz Wadnan for 45 days.
Moustafa al-Aasar - Imprisoned for participating in a documentary
Moustafa Al-Aasar (25) is a journalist, he was arrested in February 2018 from the street along with his colleague Hassan el-Banna because of his work with a documentary producer to produce a documentary on Egypt’s “democratic transition". Prosecutors ordered his detention on charges of "joining a banned group" and “publishing false information for the purpose of harming national security". On 17 November, the Cairo Criminal Court renewed the remand of Moustafa Al-Aasar for 45 days pending case 441 of 2018.
Shady Abu Zied - Imprisoned because of a satirical video
Shady Abu Zied is a satirical blogger and former reporter in a popular satirical show. On 6 May, security forces arrested Shady Abu Zied from his home. Prosecutors ordered his pre-trial detention pending investigation on charges of “membership in a banned group” and “disseminating false news”. His detention has been related to a satirical Facebook page he runs called "Rich Content" in which he publishes videos discussing social and political topics in a satirical manner. He remains in pre-trial detention. On 29 September, the Cairo Criminal Court decided to renew the detention of Shadi Abu Zeid for 45 days.
Shady al-Ghazali - Imprisoned because of his political activism
Shady al-Ghazali (39) is a doctor and political activist. He was arrested in May 2018 and charged with “membership in a banned group” and “spreading false information” for his critical writings on his Facebook page. On 25 September, the Supreme State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Shadi Ghazali Harb for 15 days. On 16 October, a criminal court renewed the detention of Shady al-Ghazaly Harb for 45 days, pending further investigations into charges of joining an illegal organization and disseminating false news.
On 24 November, the court renewed the detention of Shady to an additional 45 days. On 10 December, North Cairo Criminal Court refused Shady El-Ghazali’s appeal on the extension of his remand for 45 days.
Wael Abbas - Imprisoned for journalistic work
Wael Abbas (43) is an award-winning blogger, known globally for documenting abuses by Egyptian security forces. In May 2018, his house was raided by armed police, and he was blindfolded and arrested. He is facing charges of joining a banned group and ‘publishing false information for the purpose of harming national security’. On 2 October, the Supreme State Security Prosecution decided to renew the detention of blogger Wael Abbas for 15 days pending investigations. On 16 October, State Security Prosecutor extended the detention of Wael Abbas for 45 days.
On 1 December, the Giza Criminal Court issued an order to release Abbas on probation. Though the State Security Prosecution appealed against this decision, on 3 December the Giza Criminal Court upheld its earlier order for conditional release. Wael Abbas was released on probation on the night of 11 December and must be report to a nearby police station for four hours twice a week. His trial has been scheduled for 5 January.