Imprisoned rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan reports deteriorating health, poor detention conditions

An Alexandria prosecutor’s office renewed on Tuesday the detention of Alexandrian rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan for 15 days as he continues to suffer from a series of health complications and a lack of proper medical care in custody, according to lawyer Mahienour al-Massry.

Ramadan — who is being held in solitary confinement at the Alexandria Security Directorate in a cell with no bed — was ordered detained pending further investigations into accusations of “joining a terrorist group and promoting its ideas, spreading false news, possessing pamphlets and yellow vests to call for protests against the government, similar to the ‘Yellow Vest’ protests in France, and using social media to promote a terrorist group,” Massry said.

He was arrested on December 10 by plainclothes security personnel as he returned home after attending an interrogation session with one of his clients. He was taken to a National Security Agency (NSA) office, where he was held overnight. His whereabouts remained unknown to his family and lawyers until he appeared before the prosecution the next day, when he was ordered to be held in remand detention for 15 days.

Massry told Mada Masr that Ramadan suffers from a range of medical ailments, including high blood pressure and respiratory issues, and that blood has been present in his urine, prompting him to request a medical examination during his interrogation session at the prosecutor’s office on Tuesday, which Massry attended.

During Tuesday’s interrogation, Massry reported that Ramadan alleged that he was physically assaulted while being held by the NSA immediately after his arrest, and that he was kept blindfolded and chained to the ground during his detention there. During this period, he was held with another four men, who told him that they had been detained there for six months, without being referred to the prosecution or trial.

Ramadan’s arrest came a few days after he posted a photo of himself wearing a yellow vest on his Facebook page in solidarity with the French “Yellow Vest” movement. On the day of his arrest, the Associated Press reported that “Egyptian authorities have quietly introduced restrictions on the sale of yellow reflective vests, fearing opponents might attempt to copy French protesters during next month’s anniversary of the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.”

The Yellow Vest protests, named for the fluorescent hazard vests adopted by the demonstrators as a sign of their economic hardship erupted in France last month, and continued as protesters took a stand against a tax hike on fuel. They have since grown into a broader revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s government and its economic policies.

In a separate case, Ramadan was sentenced in absentia in April 2017 to 10 years in prison and five years of house arrest, and banned from using social media for five years on charges of insulting the president, misusing social media, and inciting violence. A retrial, ordered in July 2017, has been suspended since June, and will remain so until the Supreme Constitutional Court issues a verdict in a lawsuit filed by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights against the anti-terrorism law, that includes articles under which Ramadan was convicted.

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