Activists start campaigns for political prisoners amid renewed detentions

Tuesday and Wednesday witnessed a number of court rulings renewing the detentions of political detainees in Egyptian prisons, as activists began several campaigns to support them. 

Online campaign, “No to solitary confinement,” was initiated to highlight the mental, physical and legal repercussions of political detention.

The campaign quoted Ranwa Youssef, wife of detained journalist Youssef Shaaban, saying that “after a year and one month of solitary confinement …Youssef’s only wish is to get on the metro when he gets out and be around people for as long as possible.”

A campaign was also started to collect donations for detainees in the “Saudi land protest” case, after a Dokki appeals court amended the verdict from five years in prison and LE100,000, to just the fine, and ruled against paying in instalments

These detainees were arrested during recent protests over the controversial maritime border agreement with Saudi Arabia involving the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir.

The Front to Protect Egypt’s Protesters announced on Wednesday that 25 of the 47 arrested had been released after paying their fines, but that the remaining 22 need over LE2 million collectively before they are released.

There were also developments in the judicial proceedings pertaining to the cases of defendants jailed in relation to protests commemorating the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution, who have been in jail for over four months.

Moqattam appeals court renewed the detention of Doctors Syndicate leading member Taher Mokhtar and his housemates Hossam Eddin Hamad and Ahmed Hassan for 15 days on charges of the possession of materials calling for the overthrow of the government, the front to protect Egypt’s protesters reported.

Police forces arrested Mokhtar and his housemates during a series of raids on homes ahead of the anniversary of the January 25 revolution and confiscated printed materials for a campaign on prisoner healthcare from their apartment.

On Wednesday, Shubra al-Kheima appeals court also extended the detention of human rights lawyer Malek Adly for another 15 days, along with three other detainees — Sayed al-Banna, Ahmed Salem and Sayed Gaber — pending further investigations.

Speaking to Mada Masr, Mahmoud Belal, a lawyer at the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), where Adly is employed, said the lawyers’ statements in court in defense of the four detainees were interrupted for the second time, with prosecutors stating they had “heard enough.”

Adly asked the court to note that he had been detained for 27 days in solitary confinement, Belal said, adding that the case files include no evidence against the defendants.

“We have proven the illegality of preventative detention. Firstly, due to the absence of justification for such a form of detention, and secondly, as it is a violation of Article 54 of the Constitution,” Belal continued, explaining that the law safeguards personal freedom, limits the duration of preventative detention, and stipulates the immediate release from detention in cases where clear charges or material evidence cannot be produced.

Prosecutors accused Adly and fellow detainees of “seeking to overthrow the government, affiliation with a group seeking to obstruct the law and the dissemination of rumors with the purpose of instigating action against the state.”

Also on Wednesday, South Giza appeals court renewed the 15-day detention of lawyer Haytham Mohamadeen, along with political activists Zizo Abdou and Hamdi Qeshta, pending further investigations.

Speaking to Mada Masr, lawyer Ahmed Abdel Naby, from the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), explained, “We were initially informed that the hearing would be postponed until Thursday due to the absence of prosecutors. However, they [the defendants] were subsequently summoned for investigation and had their detentions extended.”  

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