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.