The East Cairo Prosecutor extended the pre-trial detention of four members of the Atfal al-Shawarea (Street Children) satirical troupe for an additional 15 days for the 10th time on Monday, pending further investigations.
Mohamed Dessouky, Mohamed Yehia, Mohamed Adel and Mohamed Gabr have been accused of inciting protests and publishing videos that contain illicit language directed at the state and its institutions.
Saeed Ahmed Othman, the men’s lawyer, told Mada Masr that the defense team has appealed the prosecution’s decision and expects to be informed of the date of the appeal hearing on Tuesday.
The police arrested Street Children member Ezz Eddin Khaled in early May, but he was subsequently released by a criminal appeals court. Days after his released, the four other troupe members were arrested and have been held in police custody since.
Their last video, “Slaves of army boots,” which was released on May 2 and garnered almost one million views, criticized the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Since the beginning of 2016, Street Children have published several short videos, featuring satirical renditions of songs and comedic wit, on their Facebook pages. The videos, often filmed in public settings with a member holding the camera as one would to take a selfie photo, have attracted millions of views on YouTube.
In June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement calling on Egyptian authorities to halt investigations in the case and to release the four troupe members who remain in police custody.
“The investigation appears to be based purely on their satirical videos and violates the right to free speech,” the statement asserted, adding that the “resolution on the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression adopted by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2002 prohibits arbitrary interference by governments in freedom of expression.”