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Public Prosecutor Hamada al-Sawy
Office of the Public Prosecutor
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2577 4716
Ambassador Yasser Reda
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Ct NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 895 5400 I Fax: 202 244 5131
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
On 5 July 2019 at approximately 12:45 am, at least a dozen heavily armed police officers stormed the house of political activist Ramy Shaath in Cairo, without identifying themselves or presenting an arrest warrant. Police officers searched his house and seized computers, hard drives and mobile phones. They arrested both Ramy Shaath and his wife Céline Lebrun Shaath, a history teacher and community organizer, who was subsequently unlawfully deported to France on the same day, despite legally residing in Egypt since March 2012.
Security forces transferred Ramy Shaath to an undisclosed location and concealed his whereabouts for about 36 hours. Police officers in the Qasr el-Nil police station, in Downtown Cairo, denied to Ramy’s family and lawyer that he was in their custody. The family was later informed by a lawyer that Ramy Shaath appeared before a prosecutor at the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) in New Cairo. Ramy Shaath was not allowed to call his family or legal counsel and was represented during the interrogation session by a lawyer who happened to be present in the court building at the time.
According to the family, the prosecutor informed Ramy that he is accused of “aiding a terrorist group in achieving its goals”. However, he only questioned Ramy about the nature of his political activities in Egypt and did not provide any evidence against him. The prosecutor based his accusation on a secret file gathered by the National Security Agency (NSA), despite a 2015 decision by one of Egypt’s top courts, the Court of Cassation, which ruled that NSA investigations do not constitute evidence on their own. The prosecutor has not allowed Ramy or his lawyers to examine the NSA investigation file.
I ask you to immediately and unconditionally release Ramy Shaath as he is a prisoner of conscience, and his detention stems solely from the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and his right to participate in public affairs. I call on you to also ensure that – pending his release – he is granted access to his lawyers and that his detention is in line with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Finally, I call on the Egyptian authorities to investigate the denial of consular assistance to Ramy Shaath’s wife, Céline Lebrun Shaath, a French national, and her subsequent unlawful expulsion from Egypt, and to provide effective remedies.