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Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh

© 2012 World Economic Forum, Some Rights Reserved

Former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh was arrested on February 14, 2018 following an interview he conducted days prior with Al Jazeera in London. In the interview, Aboul-Fotouh criticized the president’s crackdown on opposition ahead of March elections and called for a boycott of elections with “political candidates being pressured into stepping down and their lives being threatened.” He was later charged with “communicating with a banned group,” and “incitement to topple the government” and added to an official terrorism list.

Although his pre-trial detention has lasted nearly a year, Aboul-Fotouh has not formally been sentenced. A letter issued by the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and cosigned by 9 other human rights organizations condemns the inhumane prison conditions of Aboul-Fotouh as a “death sentence” for the 67-year old. Since his imprisonment, his health has rapidly deteriorated, according to reports by his family. As of May 9, 2018, they report that he had suffered four heart attacks while in custody at Tora Prison. The letter notes that, for this period, Aboul-Fotouh had been kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day.

Aboul-Fotouh is a well-known figure in Egyptian politics. He is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and the founder of the Egypt Strong Party. In the elections following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, he ran as an independent and won nearly a fifth of the vote in the first round. A profile of Aboul-Fotouh during the election notes that: “Of all the presidential contenders, Mr. Aboul Fotouh has been the most outspoken about full civilian control of the military, the protection of civil liberties and government spending on health care and education.”

Hisham Geneina

Hisham Geneina is the former head of the Egyptian Central Auditing Organization and campaign deputy to presidential candidate Sami Anan. Geneina was arrested for an interview he conducted with Huffington Post Arabi and sentenced to five years by a military court.

Hisham Geneina (also Genena and Genina) was arrested on February 13, 2018 and later sentenced to five years in a military court on charges of “spreading news that harms the armed forces.” Geneina is the former head of the Egyptian Central Auditing Organization. He was dismissed from the position in March 2017 after President Abdel Fattah al-SiSi accused him of overestimating the cost of corruption in Egypt. Immediately prior to his arrest, he worked as a campaign deputy to presidential candidate Sami Anan. Anan had been arrested a month earlier, just four days after announcing his plans to run in the presidential elections*.

Geneina was arrested for an interview he conducted with Huffington Post Arabi, in which he said that the Anan campaign possessed documents that implicated the Egyptian army in stirring additional social unrest after the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak. He stated that if a threat came to Anan’s life, the campaign would release the documents. The reporter who conducted the interview was also arrested. Many have decried Geneina’s trial by military court, saying that his controversial statement does not warrant a military trial.

Only a few weeks before his arrest, Geneina was attacked by a group of three unidentified men as he was leaving his home in east Cairo. The attack left him with a fractured foot and multiple wounds to the face. It is believed that this attack was related to his work as an adviser to Anan.

*Current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi went on to secure 97% of the vote, with only one contender, who had already officially endorsed Sisi and even organized events to help nominate the former military commander during his re-election campaign.

Shady Ghazaly Harb

Shady Ghazaly Harb is a doctor and lawyer detained on charges of “joining a group established in violation to the provisions of the law and the constitution with the aim to disrupt state institutions, spread false news, and humiliating the President” for comments he made on Twitter.

On May 15, 2018, Shady Ghazaly Harb (also, Shadi al-Ghazali Harb) presented himself to the Office of the General Prosecution in Giza after receiving a summons over critical comments he made about the government on Twitter. Harb, a doctor and activist, was subsequently detained and was granted release upon payment of bail. According to his lawyer Mohamed Sayyad, Harb was transferred to Dokki Police Station to process his release. However, when Sayyad appeared to ensure Harb’s release, he learned that Harb had been transferred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution for further investigation.

On May 16, the State Security Prosecution formally ordered his detention for a 15-day period while under investigation for charges of “joining a group established in violation to the provisions of the law and the constitution with the aim to disrupt state institutions, spread false news, and humiliating the President.” Harb has remained in detention since.

According to a report by the International Federation for Human Rights: “Dr. Shadi al-Ghazali Harb is being detained in solitary confinement at Qanater prison, where he does not have regular access to his family and lawyers. During the first fifteen days of his detention, he was denied access to a bed and he was not allowed to go outdoors.” On July 15, 2018, it was reported that the conditions of Harb’s imprisonment had once again deteriorated following his transferal to a new cell within Qanater prison that was “very dirty, hot, and no ventilation is available.”

Although a surgeon by profession, Harb is popularly known for his role as a youth activist in the 2011 protests against the regime of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. In 2010, he was arbitrarily detained by security forces while attempting to board a flight to London. He was blindfolded throughout his 30-hour detention and questioned by unidentified figures about his political activities as a member of the opposition Democratic Front Party (DFP), of which his uncle was the leader.

Shady Abu Zeid

Shady Abu Zeid

Shady Abu Zeid is a comedian with a “diminutive physical stature and an outsized persona” who uses his platform to explore Egyptian traditions and society with humor. He is charged with “spreading false news” and “joining a banned group.” Despite these catchall charges, it remains relatively unclear as to why Abu Zeid was arrested given his lack of political activism.

The Cairo Criminal Court ordered the conditional release of Egyptian comedian Shady Abu Zeid on January 13, 2019. However, the order was appealed by the prosecution and upheld. Shady is to remain in jail while pending investigation of charges.On April 8, 2019, his detention was renewed for another 45 day period.

Abu Zeid, a satirist and former TV personality, has been detained since May 6, 2018. Abu Zeid was charged with “spreading false news” and “joining a banned group” under Case 621/2018—the same case under which journalist Wael Abbas, women’s rights activist Amal Fathy, and surgeon Shady al-Ghazaly Harb, among others, have been detained. Despite these catchall charges, it remains relatively unclear as to why Abu Zeid was arrested given his lack of political activism.

Reports by his family state that on May 6, around 20 plainclothes state security agents raided their home, confiscating laptops and cellphones and taking Abu Zeid to an undisclosed location. His whereabouts remained unknown until a lawyer familiar with the comedian identified him at the State Security Prosecutor’s office the following day. On January 13, 2019, Abu Zeid was briefly allowed to attend his father’s funeral. Repeated requests made by his lawyers to allow Abu Zeid to see his ailing father in months preceding his death were denied.

As a comedian, Abu Zeid is most well-known for his satirical take on Egyptian society and social structures. Abu Zeid produces a show called The Rich Content. A piece on the blogger notes that his videos “have a way of questioning and probing into Egyptian society, laying bare its most absurd norms in a distinctive style. His work takes on topics like masculinity, classism, religion, tradition, xenophobia, family power structures and gay rights, to name a few.”

Haitham Mohamedeen

Haitham Mohamedeen is an activist and labor rights lawyer who has faced harassment and unwarranted detention throughout his lifetime. Most recently, he was detained for five months before being released.

On October 10, 2018, the Criminal Chamber of the Fifth Compound Courts Complex ordered the conditional release of Haitham Mohamedeen (also Haytham Mohamadeen), an activist and labor rights lawyer, who was arbitrarily detained for five months. Following the order for his release, Mohamedeen was disappeared from prison by the State Security Prosecution. For 18 days, his whereabouts and condition were not made known to his family or his lawyer.

Front Line Defenders notes that “this only one example of how the State Security Prosecution systematically bypasses judiciary rulings in Egypt; several human rights defenders who were released by court rulings have been disappeared from prisons.” Mohamedeen continues to face judicial harassment from the Egyptian government, requiring him to appear twice weekly to a police station on “precautionary measures.”

Mohamedeen was arrested from his home on May 16, 2018, but his location remained unknown until he was brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on May 19, 2018. The prosecution ordered a 15-day detention period while he was investigated for charges of “joining a terrorist organization” and “inciting protests.” Mohamedeen was charged and continues to be harassed under case No. 718/2018—a case brought against 20 individuals involved in protests over a hike in metro fares. Reports note that Mohamedeen did not take part in these protests.

As a vocal activist, Mohamedeen has faced harassment and unwarranted detention by the Egyptian government throughout his lifetime. In 2016, he was arrested alongside 152 other activists and detained for six months for calling for protests over Egypt’s transferal of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. In 2013, he was arbitrarily detained at a military checkpoint while en route to meet with factory workers who requested his legal counsel. He was released after two days without charge or explanation.

Amal Fathy

Amal Fathy is women’s rights activist and a former member of the April 6 Youth Movement. She was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for posting a Facebook video about rampant sexual harassment in Egypt. She also faces charges under a separate case, in which she was questioned about her husband’s non-governmental organization. 

Amal Fathy was arrested on May 11, 2018 for posting a video on Facebook in which she denounced the Egyptian government for failing to protect women against sexual harassment. She remained in pre-trial detention for six months until she was released on bail and kept under house arrest on December 27, 2018. Her two-year sentence was upheld three days later, and she remains at risk of being arrested and put in prison at any moment. On February 9, 2019, Amal’s house arrest was lifted on the condition that she continue to visit the local police station twice a week for four hours.

Amal is a former member of the April 6 Youth Movement—a nonviolent movement formed in 2008 that led protests against the Hosni Mubarak regime. The group was banned in 2014 by the government of Abdel Fattah al-SiSi. She is currently a member of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)—an NGO that provides free legal assistance to prisoners of conscience, among other advocacy work. Her husband Mohamed Fathy is the founding director of the ECRF and has also faced harassment by the Egyptian government.

On May 9, 2018, Amal posted a 12-minute video on Facebook describing her experience with sexual harassment in Egypt. She described two incidents from that occurred within hours of each other, when “a taxi driver groped her” and “a bank guard grabbed his crotch as he made lurid comments about her.” In the video, she condemns the government for creating an environment in which sexual harassment thrives. The following day, Amal received “a wave of harassment and threats on social media, including gender-based insults and calls for her arrest,” according to Amnesty International.

On May 11, 2018, security forces raided her home. Amal and Mohamed Fathy were detained and transferred to Maadi Police Station, along with their three-year old son. Authorities released her husband and son shortly thereafter. The Maadi prosecutor ordered her detention for a 15-day period for investigation on charges of “broadcasting a video on social media to incite the overthrow of the Egyptian Regime,” “publishing a video on social media to spread false rumors” and “the misuse of social media” under criminal case No. 7991 of 2018. She was subsequently transferred to Qanater women’s prison.

On May 13, 2018, Amal was questioned by the State Security Prosecution about the April 6 Youth Movement and her husband’s human rights work. The State Security Prosecution brought additional charges against her under case No. 621 of 2018 for “joining a terrorist group and using the Internet to call for terrorist acts” and “spreading false news and rumors to disrupt public security and harm national interests.” Authorities have not made clear why these charges were leveled against her at this point in time, according to her husband.

On September 29, 2018, Amal was sentenced to two years in prison for “spreading false news” and “sharing indecent material” in relation to her Facebook video. Although she was granted the option to pay a bail of 20,000 Egyptian pounds for her release until the sentence was upheld, she remained imprisoned due to the second case. The sentence was upheld on December 30, 2018.

Amal’s health has deteriorated significantly since her detention began in Qanater women’s prison in Cairo. According to her psychiatrist’s testimony, Amal already suffers from chronic depression. On July 1, 2018, the prison’s doctor diagnosed her with paralysis of the left leg—a condition that continued for two weeks. The doctor asked that Amal be permitted to see a psychiatrist—it is unclear whether this request was granted. Per a report by the ECRF, Amal has also suffered from frequent panic attacks while in detention.

Wael Abbas

“The question is why was he arrested in the first place? He is a prisoner because of his opinions, and he has lost seven months of his life,“ Abbas’s lawyer Gamal Eid says.

Wael Abbas is an internationally regarded activist and award winning journalist who was imprisoned for seven months. Abbas has documented deteriorating individual freedoms and police brutality in Egypt through his Misr Digital blog, for which he received the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award.

On December 1, 2018, the Giza Criminal Court ordered the conditional release of Wael Abbas, an internationally regarded activist and award-winning journalist, on probation terms that include appearing at a police station twice a week and in court every 45 days. His release was immediately appealed by the state security prosecution, but was upheld on December 3. Abbas was officially released on December 12, 2018.

Abbas was held for six months in pre-trial detention after “heavily armed officers raided [his] home in Cairo overnight and took him away blindfolded to an unknown location,” on May 23, 2018. His arrest occurred amidst a wider government crackdown on journalists and civil society members in Egypt following the re-election of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in March 2018. Like many others arrested during this period, Abbas was charged with unfounded allegations of joining a banned group–a likely reference to the Muslim Brotherhood–and spreading false news. Just hours prior to Abbas’s arrest, fellow #SetThemFree prisoner Ismail Alexandrani was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a military court.

For over a decade, Abbas has uncovered police brutality, torture, and corruption on his blog, Misr Digital. Most famously, Abbas published a video in 2006 that led to the conviction of two police officers “in a rare case of security forces members being sentenced for abusing detainees.” For this and his prior work, Abbas was awarded the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award in 2007 and was voted CNN’s 2007 Middle East Person of the Year. Abbas has been detained and harassed multiple times for his work. In addition to this, he has faced several hacking attempts of both social media platforms and email accounts.

With over 350,000 followers, he used Twitter frequently to update his audience on the state of affairs inside of Egypt. Since December 2017, his account has remained suspended without explanation, prompting widespread outrage at the social media platform. In response to his account’s suspension, “Egyptian human rights activist Sherif Azer described Abbas’s account as ‘a live archive to the events of the revolution and till today one of few accounts still documenting human rights abuses in Egypt.’” Prior, Abbas faced account suspensions by Facebook, YouTube, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail–all of which have been restored.

Wael Abbas

Wael Abbas

“The question is why was he arrested in the first place? He is a prisoner because of his opinions, and he has lost seven months of his life.” Gamal Eid says.

On December 1, 2018, the Giza Criminal Court ordered the conditional release of Wael Abbas, an internationally regarded activist and award-winning journalist, on probation terms that include appearing at a police station twice a week and in court every 45 days. His release was immediately appealed by the state security prosecution, but was upheld on December 3. Abbas was officially released on December 12, 2018.  

Abbas was held for six months in pre-trial detention after “heavily armed officers raided [his] home in Cairo overnight and took him away blindfolded to an unknown location,” on May 23, 2018. His arrest occurred amidst a wider government crackdown on journalists and civil society members in Egypt following the re-election of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in March 2018. Like many others arrested during this period, Abbas was charged with unfounded allegations of joining a banned group–a likely reference to the Muslim Brotherhood–and spreading false news. Just hours prior to Abbas’s arrest, fellow #SetThemFree prisoner Ismail Alexandrani was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a military court.

For over a decade, Abbas has uncovered police brutality, torture, and corruption on his blog, Misr Digital. Most famously, Abbas published a video in 2006 that led to the conviction of two police officers “in a rare case of security forces members being sentenced for abusing detainees.” For this and his prior work, Abbas was awarded the prestigious Knight International Journalism Award in 2007 and was voted CNN’s 2007 Middle East Person of the Year. Abbas has been detained and harassed multiple times for his work. In addition to this, he has faced several hacking attempts of both social media platforms and email accounts.
With over 350,000 followers, he used Twitter frequently to update his audience on the state of affairs inside of Egypt. Since December 2017, his account has remained suspended without explanation, prompting widespread outrage at the social media platform. In response to his account’s suspension, “Egyptian human rights activist Sherif Azer described Abbas’s account as ‘a live archive to the events of the revolution and till today one of few accounts still documenting human rights abuses in Egypt.’” Prior, Abbas faced account suspensions by Facebook, YouTube, GMail, and Yahoo Mail–all of which have been restored.

The Nubian “Dafoof Detainees”

EGYPT / Detained on September 3, 2017

UPDATE: As of June 2018, the trial of the Nubian activists is ongoing. In March 2018, several judges recused themselves from presiding over the case due to suspected issues of impartiality though the reasons have not been explicitly identified. In May 2018, the State Security Emergency Misdemeanor court ordered the case to be heard before a new circuit, the third panel to hear the case. Proceedings were scheduled to begin on July 1, 2018.

The Nubian activists have been released as of November 2017 at the conclusion of their pre-trial detention.

On September 3, 2017, Egyptian authorities arrested 24 Nubian activists, including human rights lawyers Maysara Abdoun and Mohamed Azmy, during a peaceful demonstration in Aswan, Egypt. The activists are protesting the forced displacement of Nubians from their historic lands between 1912 and 1964 and are demanding that the Egyptian government grant them “their right to return” per the Constitution. Shortly after the arrests, the authorities detained another Nubian activist, Fahed Awad, as he attempted to visit the 24 activists at their prison camp.

Per Egyptian law, prisoners must be granted trial within 15 days of their detention; however, hearings for the activists have been postponed four times. The most recent court date was set for July 1st 2018. The third panel to hear the case since proceedings began on November 14, 2017. Additionally, on November 5, 2017, one of the detainees, prominent activist, French citizen, and businessman Gamal Sorour, died from a diabetic coma in detention after authorities denied him prompt medical care for his health issues. On November 7, ten other Nubian activists were arrested for protesting against the prison conditions that led to Sorour’s death.

The 34 Nubian activists – also known as the Dafoof Detainees, a reference to the type of the drums they played while they protested – are facing charges for “illegally protesting,” “receiving funds from foreign sources,” and “disrupting public order.” If the activists are found guilty of these charges, they could spend upwards of five years behind bars.

The Egyptian authorities’ brutal treatment of the detainees has extended to members of their family as well. On October 2, 2017, police used teargas against the detainees’ family members who were protesting the delay of their court hearings. The protest was forcefully disrupted causing several of the detainees’ family members to seek urgent medical attention. Several of the detainees’ family members were also arrested and later fined $283 USD and served three weeks in jail. The Nubian activists’ arrests are part of the government’s broader crackdown on human rights, which has led to a heightened “state of fear” since 2013.

Nubian communities originate from northern Sudan and southern Egypt. They have historically been marginalized by the Egyptian government. Join family members and fellow activists in expressing solidarity by following the #FreeDafoofDetainees and #FreeNubianYouth hashtags to share your support, and spread the word about their unjust arrests. Click here to join The World Movement in calling for their unconditional and immediate release!

Mohamed Adel

UPDATE: On June 18, 2018, Mohamed Adel was re-arrested on charges of spreading false news and expressing anti-state sentiments on Facebook. Adel was detained at a local police station where he had been required to spend 12-hours per day since his release from prison—a condition of his three-year probation.

On July 2, 2018, he went on a hunger strike to protest his holding conditions in an overcrowded ward in Mansoura Prison. His hunger strike ended two weeks later when his transfer to a new ward was confirmed. On July, 16, 2018 he was given an additional 15-day detention order. Although there have been no reports since, it is common for Egyptian authorities to thwart international and Egyptian law by detaining activists without charges or a confirmed trial.

Mohamed Adel is the media spokesperson and founder of the April 6 Youth Movement. On December 18, 2013, Adel was arrested by Egyptian authorities after they stormed the offices of the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR). Adel was volunteering in the organization’s media unit at the time. After a quick trial, Adel was sentenced to three years in jail and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds on charges of assaulting police officers and “organizing illegal protests.”

The April 6 Movement was originally started as a Facebook group in support of textile workers of the city of Mahall al-Kobrahas. It was named after their planned strike date of April 6, 2008. The group quickly acquired thousands of followers and became one of the most prominent youth opposition groups in Egypt. They played a critical role in the uprising on January 25, 2011, for which it they were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize later that year.

After the coup, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ran a sustained propaganda campaign against the April 6 Movement, accusing the group of serving foreign agendas against the Egyptian people’s interests and receiving foreign funds. After years of arrests and harassment, an Egyptian court issued a verdict in April 2014 to ban the April 6 Movement over accusations of espionage and defaming the Egyptian state.

Although the verdict was roundly condemned by local human rights groups, the court of cassation rejected an appeal from Adel (alongside Ahmed Maher and Ahmed Douma) in January 2015, and upheld their three-year sentences.

On 22 January 2017, after spending three years in jail, he was released and began his probation term. He remains under strict government surveillance. The confining nature of his probation has prevented him from having a wedding and attending his university classes.

Ahmed Maher

 

EGYPT / Detained on November 30, 2013

UPDATE: On January 4, 2017, Ahmed Maher was released from jail after serving a three-year sentence and now remains under strict probation. For the next three years, he is subject to nighttime surveillance and is required to spend 12 hours per day in police custody. At the local police station where he reports for nighttime surveillance, he “[sleeps] in a 250-square-foot, toilet-less cell with up to 17 other men.”

Ahmed Maher is a founder and former general coordinator of the April 6 Youth Movement, an Egyptian political activist group.  On November 30, 2013, Maher was arrested on charges that he “took part in an illegal assembly, blocked traffic and called for a protest without obtaining Interior Ministry permission.” After a quick trial, an Egyptian court sentenced him to three years in jail and a fine of 50,000 Egyptian pounds.

The April 6 movement was originally started as a Facebook group in support of textile workers of the city of Mahall al-Kobrahas. It was named after their planned strike date of April 6, 2008. The group quickly acquired thousands of followers and became one of the most prominent youth opposition groups in Egypt. They played a critical role in the uprising on January 25, 2011, for which they were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize later that year.

After the coup, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ran a sustained propaganda campaign against the April 6 Movement, accusing the group of serving foreign agendas against the Egyptian people’s interests and receiving foreign funds. After years of arrests and harassment, an Egyptian court issued a verdict in April 2014 to ban the April 6 Movement over accusations of espionage and defaming the Egyptian state.

The verdict against Maher has been widely condemned by local human rights groups. In April 2014, Amnesty international called for the Egyptian authorities to unconditionally release Maher. In September 23, 2014, President Barack Obama also called for the release of Maher among other activists around the world.

In January 2015, the Court of Cassation rejected an appeal from Maher and upheld his three-year sentence.

Amr Ali

EGYPT / Detained on September 22, 2015

UPDATE: On September 18, 2018, the South Cairo Criminal Court ordered Ali to be conditionally released. On October 27, 2018, the South Cairo Prosecutor mitigated and extended the precautionary measures of Amr Ali for 45 days.

In October 2013, Amr Ali was elected as the new head of the April 6 Youth Movement, succeeding founder Ahmed Maher. In September 22, 2015, the security forces arrested Ali in the city of Ashmoun, Monufiya, and transferred him to the National Security Agency for interrogations. In February 29, 2016, Ali was sentenced to three years in jail and a fine of 500 Egyptian pounds for “conspiring to overthrow the government.”

The April 6 Movement was originally started as a Facebook group in support of textile workers of the city of Mahall al-Kobrahas. It was named after their planned strike date of April 6, 2008. The group quickly acquired thousands of followers and became one of the most prominent youth opposition groups in Egypt. They played a critical role in the uprising on January 25, 2011, for which they were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize later that year.

After the coup, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ran a sustained propaganda campaign against the April 6 Movement, accusing the group of serving foreign agendas against the Egyptian people’s interests and receiving foreign funds. After years of arrests and harassment, an Egyptian court issued a verdict in April 2014 to ban the April 6 Movement over accusations of espionage and defaming the Egyptian state. In January 2015, Ali was among several activists whose assets were frozen by a Judicial Ministry panel.

In July 30, 2016, Ali’s sentence was commuted to two years. In September 2016, Ali started a hunger strike after being transferred to “a disciplinary cell by the Tora prison administration.”

Following Ali’s September 2017 detention order, he was kept in solitary confinement until May 2018. Lawyers have not been permitted to read the case files pertaining to case 473/2014 and do not know what crime the charges pertain to.

 

Hisham Gaafar

Hisham Gaafar

 

EGYPT / Detained on October 21, 2015

UPDATE: On April 6, 2019, Hisham Gaafar was freed! On March 28, 2019, an Egyptian court ordered the conditional release of journalist Hisham Gaafar from pre-trial detention. He was released under conditional measures (probationary terms) that include checking in at a police station multiple times a week and being banned from leaving Egypt. Read more.

Hisham Gaafar is a prominent Egyptian journalist, researcher, and the director of the Mada Foundation for Media Development, a center for research on social issues including woman’s rights, interreligious dialogue and de-radicalization. He is also the editor-in-chief of the website IslamOnline. As of March 2018, Hisham Gaafar has been held in pre-trail detention for 41 months, exceeding the two-year maximum set in the Egyptian Code of Criminal Procedure. His pre-trial detention was most recently renewed on 14 April 2018.

On October 21, 2015, police forces in civilian clothing stormed Gaafar’s office without a warrant, searched the premises, and arrested Gaafar.

The prosecution charged Gaafar with belonging “to a banned group [Muslim Brotherhood] and international bribery.” The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information claimed that his report titled “Strengthening the Democratic Political Sphere in Egypt” led to his detention in October 2015. A roster issued by the Cairo Criminal Court includes Gaafar on a “terror list” of 1,538 individuals including other journalists and activists.

He is currently held in the Tora Maximum Security Prison under conditions described as inhumane; he is subject to prolonged solitary confinement and regularly deprived of food and water. His health has deteriorated precipitously since his detention as he is denied adequate medical care.

Ismail Alexandrani

EGYPT / Detained on November 29, 2015

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).

 

 

Aya Hijazi and Mohamed Hassanein

UPDATE: On April 16, 2017, Egyptian-American Aya Hijazi and her husband Mohamed Hassanein, the founders of Belady Foundation for Street Children, were were found not guilty and released. The foundation was launched in 2013 and focused on rehabilitating Cairo’s street children and broader developmental programs. On May 1, 2014, the organization’s offices were raided and the couple was arrested alongside two volunteers and 17 children who were on the premises at the time. The couple was charged with “child abuse,” “human trafficking,” and “inciting and exploiting children to participate in violent protests,” among other charges.

After the arrest, Hassanein and the children were severely beaten by police and the children were asked to falsely testify that they were abused by the couple. The couple has been held in pre-trial detention for the past two years with their trial being repeatedly postponed by authorities.

Egyptian and the international community have called for the immediate release of Aya Hegazy and Mohamed Hassanein. In May 2016, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Center submitted a petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urging immediate action. In addition, U.S. Representative Donald S. Beyer urged the State Department to speak out on behalf of Aya Hegazy, who grew up in the U.S., when the Egyptian Foreign Minister visited the United States on July 22, 2016.

Despite international pressure, the couple remains in prison after their judicial proceeding was adjourned for seventh time until November 19, 2016. Lend your voice and share a solidarity tweet to help #SetThemFree!

 

Ahmed Douma

Ahmed Douma

MENA Ahmed Douma

EGYPT / Detained December 3, 2013 

UPDATE: On January 9, 2019, Ahmed Douma was sentenced at a retrial to 15 years in prison for rioting and fined $335,000 for his role in a December 2011 protests. His sentence of 25 years was upheld in an appeal in July 2017 but overturned three months later when the Egyptian Court of Cassation ruled in his favor and ordered a retrial.

Ahmed Douma was a leading figure in the pro-democracy revolution that forced former President Hosni Mubarak to step down.  In December 2013, he was arrested at his home, following a protest organized by the No Military Trials for Civilians campaign in defiance of a new restrictive protest law. The protests was violently dispersed by the police. He was convicted of rioting, inciting violence and attacking security forces. Within days he was sentenced for his participation in illegal protests under the new protest law. In February 2015, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced him to life imprisonment.

In October 2017, the Egyptian Court of Cassation ruled in favor of Ahmed Douma’s appeal against his lifelong sentence and ordered a retrial. Moreover, in February 2018 the Maadi Court of Misdemeanors reduced Douma’s three-year prison sentence and fine for insulting the judiciary to a fine. On May 24, the Egyptian Court of Cassation also ordered a retrial in this case.

 

 

 

Nabeel Rajab

Nabeel Rajab

©2011 Conor McCabe. Some Rights Reserved.

BAHRAIN/ Detained June 13, 2016

Nabeel Rajab is a prominent human rights defender and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). On February 21, 2018, Bahrain authorities sentenced Rajab to five years in prison for his criticism on Twitter of Bahrain’s prison conditions and for condemning Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen.   

UPDATE: On January 10, 2019, Bahrain rejected a call by the United Nation’s Human Rights Office to free the prominent human rights defender saying that Rajab’s “false tweets” were not protected by his right of freedom of expression. On January 15, 2019, Rajab was informed that all future family visits would be conducted through a glass wall – a procedure normally reserved for violent criminals because of its large psychological impact on the prisoner. Rajab recently lost his appeal to Bahrain’s Supreme Court against his five-year jail term on December 31, 2018.

Nabeel Rajab is a prominent human rights defender and President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). On February 21, 2018, Bahrain authorities sentenced Rajab to five years in prison for his criticism on Twitter of Bahrain’s prison conditions and for condemning Saudi Arabia’s role in the war in Yemen. He was convicted of “disseminating false rumors in a time of war,” “offending a foreign country,” and “insulting a statutory body.” The international community has condemned his sentencing, but there are serious concerns about his health, which has steadily worsened while in jail.

A frequent target of state-sponsored harassment, Rajab was earlier arrested in October 2014 for “insulting the Ministries of Interior and Defense” for a series of Twitter posts in which he accused Bahraini security forces of cooperating with the Islamic State. He was released on bail, but was quickly arrested on new charges concerning Twitter posts about torture practices in Jaw Prison. On June 13, 2016, Bahrain authorities arrested and detained Rajab for the third time since 2014. Nabeel’s health deteriorated during this term, and on several occasions, he was denied medical treatment for his heart condition.

Shortly after this arrest, it came to light that Rajab’s charges were related to his televised interviews with the international press about Bahrain’s human rights abuses, as well as his Twitter posts. Bahrain sentenced him to two years in prison on July 10, 2017. Rajab was charged with making “false or malicious” comments against government authorities and was sentenced in absentia, as he was too ill to attend the hearing and remained in the hospital. His most recent charges were brought against him as a separate case, solely concerning his Twitter commentary. This trial was postponed 20 times, and many feel court procedures were violated by failing to give Rajab’s lawyers enough opportunity to defend him.

On June 5 2018, a Bahraini appeals court ruled that the 5-year prison sentence against human rights activist Nabeel Rajab would be upheld. Rajab himself did not attend the hearing, but his defense team emphasized that due process requirements had been violated. Rajab can now only appeal to Bahrain’s Court of Cassation or be pardoned by Bahrain’s king, Hamad bin Isa Khalifa.

Human rights organizations have united through online campaigns to mobilize support for Rajab, and several members of the European Union and other government leaders have issued statements for his release. Human rights activist and son of Rajab, Adam Nabeel Rajab, recently said: “My father is sacrificing himself to see a country which respects human rights, and he is happy to do that. I’m not exaggerating when I say he is unbreakable.” The European Union (EU) spoke out against Rajab’s sentence in a statement and called for his release, a request later echoed by both the United Nations, the government of Norway, and several civil society organizations.

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja

BAHRAIN / Detained April 9, 2011

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Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja is the Co-Founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR). He was sentenced to life imprisonment for his involvement in the country’s peaceful 2011 pro-democracy Pearl Uprising for allegedly organizing and managing a “terrorist organization,” (which most civil society organizations are classified as in Bahrain), and attempting to overthrow the government.  

UPDATE: On January 15, 2019, Al-Khawaja and other members of “the Bahrain 13”—the name given to 13 Bahraini opposition leaders, rights activists, bloggers arrested and charged for participating in peaceful demonstrations in 2011—were informed that all future visits by their family will be conducted behind a glass wall—a procedure normally reserved for violent criminals, not prisoners of conscience.

Bahraini authorities arrested Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, former President and Co-Founder of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) for his involvement in the country’s peaceful 2011 pro-democracy Pearl Uprising. On June 22, 2012, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly organizing and managing a “terrorist organization,” (a designation given to many civil society organizations in Bahrain), and attempting to overthrow the government.

Al-Khawaja initiated a hunger strike to protest new repressive rules imposed upon him and other prisoners at Jaw Prison in spring 2017. In addition to routinely being denied urgent medical treatment, prisoners must now be shackled whenever they leave their cells and are forced to undergo a full body strip. Additionally, prisoners are unable to leave their locked cells for most of the day, limiting their access to toilets. A month later, Al-Khawaja ended his hunger strike due to health complications, but the inhumane conditions at Jaw Prison remain.

Zeynab Jalalian

Zeynab Jalalian

IRAN / Detained in July 2007

Zeynab Jalalian is a Kurdish Iranian political activist serving a life term in Khoy Prison. Arrested in 2007, she was originally sentenced to death (later commuted) by the Supreme Court in November 2009 on the charges of “enmity with God” and cooperation with the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK).  

UPDATE: Zeynab Jalalian has been denied family visits in prison since December 24, 2018.

Zeynab Jalalian is a Kurdish Iranian political activist serving a life term in Khoy Prison. Arrested in 2007, she was originally sentenced to death (later commuted) by the Supreme Court in November 2009 on the charges of “enmity with God” and cooperation with the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK). Zeynab has been subject to torture and constant harassment during her detainment according to a letter she wrote shortly before her court hearing. Despite a serious deterioration in her health, she has been denied adequate medical attention and is in critical condition. Her jailers have ignored advice from doctors that she receive medical treatment outside of prison. Since December 24 2018, Zeynab has been denied family visits.

According to her family she was arrested in July 2007. On 26 November 2009 the Supreme Court confirmed her death sentence on charges of “moharebeh (enmity with God),” and “cooperation with Party For Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK)”, which she denies. That was the day before, Zeynab wrote a letter in which she claimed to have been tortured. Her death sentence has now been commuted to life imprisonment. Since August 2017, Zeynab has been denied medical treatment outside prison despite suffering from severe health conditions. As a form of protest for not being allowed to go to a hospital, Zeynab has been refusing to take the medication given in prison.

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Sheikh Abdullah Isa Al-Mahroos

Sheikh Abdullah Isa Al-Mahroos

BAHRAIN / Detained April 1, 2011

Sheikh Abdullah Isa Al-Mahroos is a religious leader and the Vice President of the Al-Zaharaa Society of Orphans, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his involvement in the peaceful 2011 pro-democracy Pearl Uprising.

On April 1, 2011, Bahraini police arrested Sheikh Abdullah Isa Al-Mahroos (also known by Mirza Al-Mahroos) a religious leader and the Vice President of the Al-Zaharaa Society of Orphans. Al-Mahroos is considered one of the “Bahrain 13″—the name given to 13 Bahraini opposition leaders, rights activists, bloggers arrested and charged for participating in peaceful demonstrations in 2011.

During his arrest, police blindfolded and brutally beat Al-Mahroos in front of his family. Shortly after, a military court charged him with “conspiring against the government and plotting to overthrow the regime” and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. Subject to continual threats of violence, he signed a written statement to be used in court against him without review for fear of retaliation in prison.

Like other Bahraini political prisoners, Al-Mahroos has been repeatedly tortured and denied medical access while behind bars. In August 2014, he made a distressed phone call to his family complaining about the deterioration of his health in custody. He reported to have been refused adequate medical attention by the prison administration for lingering physical pain caused by the torture he had endured in 2011 at Castle Prison. He was not permitted to see his wife who died of a chronic disease during his imprisonment.

Abduljalil Al-Singace

Abduljalil Al-Singace

BAHRAIN / Detained March 17, 2011

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UPDATE: On January 15, 2019, Al-Singace and other members of the Bahrain 13 held in Jau Prison were informed that all future family visits would be conducted through a glass wall – a procedure normally reserved for violent criminals because of its large psychological impact on the prisoner.

Abduljalil al-Singace, an engineer and journalist who managed the blog “Al-Faseela,” has long been a human rights activist and a consistent target of government crackdown. As early as 2005 he was demoted from a prominent engineering position at the University of Bahrain after the university had received pressure from the government because of his human rights activism. During a visit by President George Bush to the Bahrain in 2008, he presented him with a petition of 80,000 signatures stating that Bahrain is not a democracy. He has fought for the right of the people to draft a democratic constitution in their interest.

First arrested in 2010 in response to a speech he gave at a conference at the British House of Lords criticizing Bahrain’s lack of freedoms and protection of human rights, al-Singrace was detained upon his return at the airport for the “abuse of the freedom of opinion”. He was released in February 2011 just before pro-democracy demonstrations began and rearrested on March 17, 2011, Following his arrest, a military court quickly sentenced him to life in prison for “plotting to overthrow the government.”

On March 12, 2017, prison authorities denied Al-Singace medical treatment for severe dehydration. He had refused to be chained upon leaving his cell – a mandatory rule for all prisoners at Jaw Prison. Due to excessive torture and abuse he has experienced behind bars, Al-Singace now requires a medical specialist to treat his extreme health problems.