EGYPT / Detained on November 29, 2015
UPDATE: Ismail Alexandrani was released from prison on December 5, 2022, after his ten-year sentence was commuted to seven years in October 2022.
Ismail Alexandrani is a well-known journalist and researcher. Alexandrani was sentenced to 10 years in prison on May 22, 2018 on politically-motivated charges of “divulging state secrets” and “membership of a banned group,” for his vocal concern over military action in the contested Sinai Peninsula.
Ismail Alexandrani was sentenced to 10 years in prison on May 22, 2018 on politically-motivated charges of “divulging state secrets” and “membership of a banned group,” for his vocal concern over military action in the contested Sinai Peninsula. This military activity has reportedly left thousands of civilians homeless and without stable access to food and other necessities. After spending nearly three years in pretrial detention—illegal under Egyptian law—the State Security Prosecution transferred his case to a military court without informing his legal counsel. When the court finally sentenced Alexandrani in absentia, he was not provided official confirmation and only learned via word of mouth. Following his conviction, a series of contradictory statements by Egyptian authorities sowed further confusion among his family and international community regarding the status of his case. His sentence was upheld by a military court on December 24, 2018.
When he was arrested, more than 70 international scholars signed a letter calling for his release, which noted: “Alexandrani is one of Egypt’s brightest young researchers, who has spent the last few years doing ground-breaking work on the marginalized areas of Egypt…[his] arrest is a repression of free speech and should be condemned.”At the time of his sentencing, the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) warned that the arrests of prominent democracy advocates signal President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s intention to further transform Egypt from an environment that “limits independent political space” to one that “wants to eliminate it entirely.” Since his virtually-uncontested re-election in March 2018, President al-Sisi has increasingly targeted civil society and media with arbitrary detentions and judicial harassment.
Alexandrani has published award-winning articles and research papers which have been published in Arabic, English, and French. In 2009, he was the global winner of the World Youth Movement for Democracy’s International Essay Contest on Youth and Democracy and in 2014, the Open Eye-Hany Darweesh Award for Exceptional Essay award. In 2009, he was a global winner of the World Youth Movement for Democracy’s International Essay Contest on Youth and Democracy. Click here to read his winning essay for the World Youth Movement for Democracy’s International Essay Contest on Youth and Democracy .
In addition, Alexandrani was the Visiting Arab Journalist Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, based in Washington, D.C. The World Movement for Democracy joined the Egyptian human rights community, Human Rights Watch, and Committee to Protect Journalists in calling for Alexandrani’s release. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!
You can follow the developments of his case by following Khadeega Ga’far (Alexandrani’s wife) on Twitter (@Khadeega).