The undersigned organizations condemn the referral of researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy, a master’s student at the Central European University in Austria (CEU), to an urgent trial before the Emergency Supreme State Security Court in Case 774 of 2021. The undersigned organizations demand the closure of the case and the immediate release of Santawy, allowing him to resume his studies.
The first session of Santawy’s trial will be held on June 1st at the headquarters of the New Cairo Court, just ten days after he was brought -for the first time – before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on May 22 for investigations in the new case against him, 877 of 2021. The Prosecution has charged him with joining a terrorist group and publishing and broadcasting false news and statements from abroad that harms national security and public order. The ‘false news’ is in reference to Santawy’s alleged Facebook posts; Santawy has denied the charges and his connection to the social media account.
The Emergency Supreme State Security Court is an exceptional court, to which defendants are referred while the state of emergency is in effect; its verdicts cannot be appealed. Egyptian and international human rights organizations have criticized the abuse of pretrial detention as state retaliation against citizens who peacefully exercise their right to free speech to express dissenting or critical opinions of the Egyptian government. Rather than responding to widespread national and international outcry against Santawy’s unjust confinement in pretrial detention, the prosecution has instead substituted his pretrial detention with an exceptional trial, thereby depriving him of the right to a fair trial. Santawy’s lawyers still do not have access to the case files, while the charges could lead to Santawy’s imprisonment for up to five years.
Santawy has already been imprisoned for approximately four months in connection with another case, 65 of 2021, on similar unsubstantiated charges. The Supreme State Security Prosecution’s conduct towards Santawy appears to be politically-motivated retribution for his research on gender and women’s rights. It should be noted that the State Security Prosecution began investigating Santawy in the second caseonly one day after he was assaulted by the deputy warden of Torah Prison. He had previously been assaulted multiple times during his enforced disappearance of nearly fifteen days, before he first appeared before the prosecution on 6 February 2021.
The signatory organizations underscore the urgency of closing the case against Ahmed Samir Santawy before the Emergency Supreme State Security Court. The investigation of him must be suspended alongside his immediate and unconditional release.
- Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
- El Nadim Center for Rehabilitation of victims of violence and torture
- Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.
- Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.
- Egyptian Front for Human Rights.
- Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.
- Freedom Initiative.
- Regional Center for Rights and Liberties
- Intersection association for rights and freedoms.
- Committee of Justice
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