Egypt: Rights groups condemn exceptional sentence given to Elelaimy, Moanes, Fouad, and others and urge president not to ratify it

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

The undersigned human rights organizations denounce the shameful ruling issued today 17 November by the Emergency State Security Court, to five years in prison and a fine of 500 pounds against lawyer and former parliamentarian Zyad Elelaimy,  four years in prison against journalists Hisham Fouad and Hossam Mounes, and three years against other defendants in case No. 957 of 2021, Emergency State Security misdemeanor.

The verdict comes to confirm what the independent Egyptian organizations have repeatedly referred to earlier about the fictitious lifting of the state of emergency and released an incomplete human rights strategy that purports to foster judicial independence and human rights in Egypt. Today’s ruling came to confirm that the government’s anti-human rights policies will remain in place.

We urge president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi not to ratify this outrageous sentence; especially since this ruling leads to the defendents spending more years in prison, in addition to the other case currently before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, which they are imprisoned for since June 2019. The undersigned organizations demand that Elelaimy, Moanes, and Fouad  be immediately released and all charges against them dropped. We also call for an end to retaliatory legal action against rights advocates and journalists. This latest sentence reflects the Egyptian authorities’ determination to continue lashing out at political opponents and suppressing free political participation and freedom of expression.

The current case began when Zyad Elelaimy,  Hisham Fouad and Hossam Moanes were unexpectedly referred to trial before the Emergency State Security Court, the same day the Court of Cassation denied an appeal from Elelaimy, Ramy Shaath, and others contesting their inclusion on the designated terrorism lists, upholding the decree that placed their names on the lists for five years. The trial, which began on 15 July, was based on charges identical to case no. 930/2019, known as the Hope Coalition case, for which Elelaimy, Fouad, and Moanes had been detained for nearly two years—a flagrant circumvention of the legal ceiling on pretrial detention in a common practice that has come to be known as “recycling” cases.

In the first sessions of the trial, the court denied all motions from the defense counsel to consult with their clients or copy the case file. In a hearing in October, the defendants’ lawyers argued that constitutionally the case could not lawfully be heard by the exceptional court after the president had lifted the state of emergency and thus suspended the remit of the emergency courts.

Today’s unjust verdict is another episode in the prolonged retaliatory campaign against Elelaimy, Fouad, and Moanes that began on 24 June 2019, when security forces at that time arrested a group of journalists, politicians, and syndicate figures who were in the process of forming a new electoral coalition to run in the parliamentary elections slated for November 2019. In March 2020, Elelaimy was sentenced to one year in prison and fined LE20,000 in retaliation for a television interview he gave in which he criticized the human rights situation in Egypt.

Held in pretrial detention for two years, the Hope Coalition detainees have suffered from medical neglect and some have become chronically ill. Elelaimy suffers from asthma, high blood pressure, and a rare immunodeficiency disease, and has been afflicted with cardiac edema during his incarceration. Journalist Hossam Moanes, a founder of the Popular Current, has been denied exercise and visits; journalist Hisham Fouad has been held in poor conditions with inadequate ventilation and a lack of health care and suffers from back pain.

The undersigned organizations reaffirm their rejection of this sentence, issued by an exceptional court whose verdicts are not subject to appeal and which does not meet minimum due process standards. We call for the immediate release of the three defendants and the dismissal of all charges against them, and we hold the Egyptian authorities responsible for their lives and psychological and physical safety.

Signatory organizations

  1. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  2. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  3. Committee for Justice
  4. The Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  5. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  6. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  7. The Freedom Initiative
  8. El Nadeem Center

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