Local and international campaigns for the release of jailed doctor Taher Mokhtar have gained momentum over the last few days.
The global support group Egypt Solidarity is planning to submit a petition for Mokhtar’s release to the Egyptian Embassy in London on Thursday morning. The petition had at least 200 signatures as of Wednesday, including doctors, nurses, academics and trade unionists from around the world.
Mokhtar was formerly a council member of the Alexandria Doctors Syndicate, and is also a member of the general Doctors Syndicate’s Liberties Committee. Police arrested him and his two roommates, both university students, from their home in a dawn raid on January 14.
The defendants face charges of possessing leaflets that allegedly call for the overthrow of Egypt’s government. Their pretrial detention has been extended pending investigations.
Prior to his arrest, Mokhtar was actively involved in prisoner support campaigns, and the syndicate reportedly tasked him with following up on detainee health care. The syndicate has asked its official lawyer to represent Mokhtar and secure his immediate release.
“Taher has played a key role in defending doctors’ and patients’ rights in Egypt, both as a leading activist and as a tireless campaigner for Egypt’s public health service,” Egypt Solidarity asserted in the petition.
Mokhtar “is also an outspoken critic of the current military regime who has taken a courageous public stand in solidarity with victims of state repression across the political spectrum,” the rights group continued, speculating that this may be the reason for his arrest.
Mokthar was a member of a prisoner support group called Medical Neglect in Prisons is a Crime, according to the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper, which seeks to hold the state accountable for prisoner healthcare as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Last week, 11 Egyptian civil society groups issued a statement of support for Mokhtar calling for his immediate release and that of his roommates.