Egypt: Hope Coalition detainees must be immediately released, after nearly two years of wrongful imprisonment

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The undersigned organizations call for the immediate release of those detained in the Hope Coalition case (case no. 930 of 2019) and for the dismissal of all charges against them. As the two-year maximum lawful duration of their pretrial detention approaches, the signatory organizations are concerned that the authorities will circumvent their legal obligation to release them, either by bringing new charges in a different case—a practice known as “recycling” cases—or by referring them to trial for exercising their constitutionally-guaranteed political rights. We further demand that the names of the thirteen  people held in connection with the same case, among them Zyad el-Eleaimy and Ramy Shaath, be removed from the designated terrorism lists. The Court of Cassation is slated to hear their appeal on 9 June.

The Hope Coalition case began in June 2019 when police raided the homes of several political activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and businessmen, some of whom were building a secular democratic coalition comprised of a  diverse array of  political parties, movements, and independent figures with the aim of running in the parliamentary elections in November of that year. Yet in line with the Egyptian government’s policy of eliminating any genuine political opposition, they were denied the exercise of their legitimate right to political participation and were charged with terrorism-related crimes.

Some of the defendants in the case were released earlier, such as labor activist Ahmed Tamam,  who was released on bail in October 2020.  But in yet another instance of the illegitimate practice of ‘recycling’ cases, the prosecution added him to a new case as soon his release order was issued. He was then brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in case no. 1065 of 2020  in connection with fabricated charges based on National Security investigations.

Defendants in the Hope Coalition case include prominent leaders in Egyptian politics and civil society; Zyad el-Eleaimy was a lawyer, former parliamentarian, and a leader  of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party while Ramy Shaath was the coordinator of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt. Other defendants include political activist Hossam Mo’anes and  leftist journalist Hisham Fouad; labor activists Hassan Barbary and Alaa Essam, writer and economist Omar el-Shenety, businessmen Osama al-Aqbawi and Mustafa Abdel Moez. They were charged by State Security with participating in a terrorist group and publishing and disseminating false news on social media; some of the defendants were charged with funding and equipping the terrorist group.

The Hope Coalition detainees are suffering from willful medical neglect, amid rising fears of the spread of Covid-19 in prisons; some of the detainees have chronic illnesses that require urgent treatment.  El-Eleaimy has asthma, high blood pressure, and a rare autoimmune disease;  he was also diagnosed with cardiac edema during his confinement. Alaa Essam, a member of the Egyptian Forum for Labor Relations, was assaulted while being held at National Security offices in Suez prior to interrogation. It was reported that Mo’anes, a founder of the Popular Current Party, is being denied exercise and visits, while journalist Hisham Fouad is being held in poor conditions lacking adequate ventilation and sanitation, and suffers from back pain while being deliberately denied healthcare.

Egypt’s National Security and Public Prosecution continue to increasingly recycle or bring new cases on trumped up charges against political activists and human rights defenders after their release in previous cases, with the aim of keeping them behind bars indefinitely in retaliation for their peaceful political dissent. The undersigned organizations fear that this policy will be pursued with the Hope Coalition detainees, as it was recently with Adel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, president of the Strong Egypt Party and once-aspiring opposition candidate in the 2018 presidential elections, and his deputy Mohamed Qassas. Rights defenders Ibrahim Ezz el-Din and Ibrahim Metwally, alongside journalists Esraa Abdel Fattah and  Mohamed Saleh, and graduate student Ahmed Samir,  are also several of many recent cases of Egyptian citizens unjustly ensnared in the prison system on the illegitimate basis of recycled cases. With the hearing on 9 June imminent, the Court of Cassation must – if it possesses any allegiance to the principles of justice and the rule of law –  release all Hope Coalition detainees, and dismiss all charges against them.

Signatory organizations:

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI)
  3. Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
  4. Belady Center for Rights and Freedoms
  5. Committee of Justice
  6. Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  7. Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  8. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
  9. El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture
  10. Regional Center for Rights and Liberties
  11. The Freedom Initiative

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