A South Cairo criminal court rejected the most recent appeal to release university students Ahmed Hassan and Ahmed Hossam, who have been in detention for over one month, after they were arrested in January along with their housemate, doctor and activist Taher Mohktar, for possession of printed material allegedly calling for the overthrow of the government.
This is the second time that the courts rejected an appeal to release Hassan and Hossam this month.
Security forces arrested the three on Thursday, January 13, in a dawn raid on their home in downtown Cairo amid an intense security campaign that began ahead of the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution. The defendants were accused of possessing publications calling for change in the constitution and overthrow of the regime.
Mokhtar Mounir, the defense attorney, says that detectives investigating the case allege that the defendants were attempting to publish calls for protests against the government on the revolution’s anniversary. He said the detectives have not included official charges of “inciting protests,” however.
The evidence exhibited in the case does not include any publications, and all that was seized from the residence were the defendants’ private computers and cell phones, he added.
Prosecutors have pointed to a report from the Doctor’s Syndicate calling for better medical treatment and conditions for detainees as evidence. Mounir emphasized that the report did not belong to either Hossam or Hassan and there is no evidence that any of the defendants were intending to distribute it.
Mokhtar, the third defendant in the case, is a well-known activist who advocates for greater medical rights for prisoners, was formerly a council member of the Alexandria Doctors Syndicate, and is also a member of the general Doctors Syndicate’s Liberties Committee. Malek Adly, a lawyer on Mokhtar’s defense team had previously told Mada Masr that authorities had refused to include a report submitted by the Doctors Syndicate stating that Mokhtar was tasked with investigating prisoners’ health conditions by the syndicate, which explains why a report on prisoners’ health was at his home address.
Mounir added that the defense decided to appeal for Hossam and Hassan’s release separately from Mokhtar because their legal situation is different to his, due the nature of the evidence in the case and because they do not have any previous political activity.
He added that they will continue appeal for Mokhtar’s release as well over the next few days. But the defense believes it is a “bad case” and that it is unlikely that he will be released due to political pressure on judicial decisions.
Mokhtar, Hossam and Hassan’s detention has been met with both national and international condemnation, with a number of rights groups rallying to advocate for their release.