Update: On Wednesday 23 March the court ruling ordering Mahmoud Hussein’s release was appealed by Egypt’s Public Prosecutor. A final decision on whether to release Mahmoud Hussein or renew his detention is expected to be taken by another court on Thursday 24 March.
Egypt’s authorities must expedite the release of a 20-year-old prisoner of conscience who has spent more than two years in pre-trial detention in a case of outrageous injustice, said Amnesty International after a court ordered his release on bail today.
Mahmoud Hussein was arrested on 25 January 2014 for wearing a “Nation Without Torture” T-shirt, and a scarf with a logo of the “25 January Revolution”. He was accused of belonging to a banned group and attending an unauthorised protest, amongst other things.
While the court’s decision comes as a huge relief for Mahmoud Hussein and his family, it should not overshadow the outrageous injustice he has suffered.Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director
“While the court’s decision comes as a huge relief for Mahmoud Hussein and his family, it should not overshadow the outrageous injustice he has suffered. He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place. The Egyptian authorities must now drop all charges against him,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International.
“The fact that he languished behind bars for nearly 790 days just because of the slogan on his T-shirt shows just how dire the human rights situation in Egypt has become. Many others, like Mahmoud, are imprisoned in Egypt simply for exercising their right to freedom of expression or assembly.”
Amnesty International fears his provisional release could be overturned by Egypt’s Public Prosecutor before another court.
Mahmoud Hussein is hours away from release. But he will not be truly free until the authorities drop the ludicrous charges against him, remove all conditions on his release, and end the investigationMagdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director
“Mahmoud Hussein is hours away from release. But he will not be truly free until the authorities drop the ludicrous charges against him, remove all conditions on his release, and end the investigation,” said Magdalena Mughrabi.
“They must also set up a prompt, independent investigation into his allegations of torture and other ill-treatment in detention and bring those responsible to justice. All other prisoners of conscience in Egypt must also be immediately and unconditionally released.”
In November 2015, Amnesty International delivered nearly 145,000 signatures to the Egyptian authorities calling for Mahmoud Hussein’s immediate and unconditional release.