Urgent Action Update: Detained Lawyer Questioned Over Terrorism Charges (Egypt: UA 132.19)
October 19, 2020
On 30 August 2020, the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) interrogated lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer over unfounded charges, including “joining a terrorist organization”, as part of a recently opened case (No.855/2020). Mohamed el-Baqer is a prisoner of conscience, held solely for his human rights work.
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Public Prosecutor Hamada al-Sawi Due to postal restrictions caused by COVID-19, please only send physical mail to the Embassy 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
I am writing to raise my concerns about the ongoing arbitrary detention of lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who have been held at the Tora Maximum Security 2 Prison since 1 October 2019. Amnesty International considers them to be prisoners of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights.
On 30 August 2020, Mohamed el-Baqer was brought in front of the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP), a special branch of the Public Prosecution responsible for prosecuting crimes that relate to “state security”, to face questioning into a new case (No. 855/2020). During the interrogation, he was accused of “joining a terrorist organization” and “taking part in a criminal agreement to commit a terrorist crime”, allegedly committed while he was exercising in the prison courtyard and during appearances at the prosecution’s office. His lawyers argued that the accusations were baseless as he was cut off from the outside world from 10 March to 22 August 2020, when all prison visits were suspended by the authorities citing COVID-19 concerns. His lawyers also noted that he has not been allowed to exercise throughout the duration of his detention. After questioning him, the SSSP ordered his detention for 15 days, pending further investigations.
During their last prison visit on 22 September 2020, relatives learned that Mohamed el-Baqer has been suffering from colon spasms and has received health care inside prison. On 28 September 2020, Alaa Abdel Fattah’s detention was renewed in his presence for another 45 days. Since prison visits resumed on 22 August 2020, his relatives have been able to visit him twice, last on 1 October.
Shortly after their arrest on 29 September 2019, the police had blindfolded both men on the way to the prison, beat and kicked Alaa Abdel Fattah and insulted Mohamed el-Baqer.
I therefore urge you to release Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed el-Baqer immediately and unconditionally and drop the charges against them, as they are detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights. Pending their release, I call on you to ensure they have access to adequate health care and regular access to their families and lawyers. I also ask you to ensure that their complaints of torture and other ill-treatment are duly investigated.