Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge
Amnesty Urgent Actions
Startseite Urgent Actions 2019 10 Prominent activist and his lawyer detained Arbitrarily detained activist amid pandemic
FI 132/19-2
Abgeschlossen am 3. Juli 2020

Arbitrarily detained activist amid pandemic

AI-Index: MDE 12/2393/2020

On 18 May 2020, prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah – who has been arbitrarily detained since September 2019 at Tora Maximum Security Prison 2 ended his 36-day hunger strike in protest at the renewal of his detention in a hearing he was not allowed to attend. Human rights lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer’s pre-trial detention was also renewed for 45 days in his absence, denying him the right to challenge his arbitrary detention.


Alaa Abdel Fattah, a well-known political activist and government critic, has been repeatedly arrested in recent years including for his peaceful activism and criticism of the authorities. Mohamed el-Baqer is a human rights lawyer and director of Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms, which he founded in 2014. The Center focuses on criminal justice, the right to education and students' rights.

The detention of Alaa and Mohamed came amid the largest arrest campaign since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in 2014. On 20 and 21 September 2019, scattered protests broke across Egyptian cities, calling on President al-Sisi to resign. The protests came in response to calls to protest after corruption allegations shared by former army contractor Mohamad Ali in which he accused army leaders and the president of wasting public money on building luxury properties. When they appeared before prosecutors for questioning on 9 October 2019, they reported being subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. The torture in custody of Alaa as well as the mistreatment of Mohamed illustrate the Egyptian authorities’ use of extreme brutality to crush dissent.

Mohamed, also detained in Tora Maximum Security Prison Two, was last visited by his family on 7 March 2020. On 18 April 2020, the prison authorities allowed his family to send him food, vitamins and a letter after refusing to accept their package a week earlier. The family also received a letter from him. Mohamed suffers from a number of health conditions including asthma, chest pain, back and lumbar vertebra pain and kidney problems, some of which are included on the World Health Organisation’s list of vulnerable groups in relation to COVID-19. The well-documented overcrowded and unsanitary detention conditions in Egyptian prisons present an increased risk of the spread of infectious diseases.

Since 15 March 2020, the Egyptian ministry of justice suspended all hearings before courts as a measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since early May 2020, «terrorism-circuit» judges have extended the pre-trial detention orders of over 1600 detainees in the absence of any due process guarantees: defendants were not present in court, while lawyers were prevented from presenting their defence. Alaa and Mohamed, like other pre-trial detainees, were not transferred to court sessions for detention renewal hearings.

On 18 March 2020, Laila Soueif, Mona Seif, Alaa’s aunt Ahdaf Soueif and university professor Rabab el-Mahdi – were arrested by security services in front of the Cabinet building in Cairo after they stood in peaceful protest on a pavement demanding the release of prisoners over fears of a COVID-19 outbreak in the country’s overcrowded prisons. A prosecutor accused them of «inciting a protest», «disseminating false information» and «possession of material disseminating false information». He then ordered their release pending investigations on bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds (around US$320). Although they made the bail payment the same day, they remained in detention overnight without legal grounds. On 19 March, the authorities transferred Laila Soueif to the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP) building in New Cairo, where a prosecutor ordered her release on bail of 3,000 Egyptian pounds (around US$190). All four were released that night.

In the aftermath of September 2019 protests, Amnesty International has documented how the Egyptian security forces have carried out sweeping arrests of protesters and rounded-up journalists, human rights lawyers, activists, and political figures in a bid to silence critics and deter further protests. This included 76 arrests across six cities between 19 and 29 September 2019. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, an independent NGO, reported that at least 2,300 have been arrested in relation to the protests. According to lawyers, scores of detainees have been released without questioning, but many others continue to held.

On 29 March 2019, Alaa had been released on probation after serving an unjust five-year prison term for participating in a peaceful protest. His probation terms required him to spend 12 hours every night at a police station for five years. On 29 September 2019, Alaa did not leave the Dokki police station in Cairo, where he spent his probation. The police told his mother that he was taken by the National Security Agency (NSA) officers to the SSSP. Later that day, Mohamed entered the SSSP building to represent him. According to their families and friends, Alaa and Mohamed’s whereabouts were unknown until on 1 October 2019, when they appeared for the first time since their arrest in Tora Maximum Security Prison 2. The questioning focused on Mohamed’s work and the prosecutor did not provide any evidence against him except an NSA investigation file, which neither he nor his lawyer were allowed to examine.

8 Briefe verschickt  
My Urgent Actions
Fürs Mitzählen lassen Ihres Briefes und Update-Funktion zu nutzen müssen Sie sich
einloggen oder
UA 132/19-2 english
Microsoft Word Document, 33.8 kB
UA 132/19-2 deutsch
Microsoft Word Document, 34.7 kB
UA 132/19-2 français
Microsoft Word Document, 35.2 kB
Mehr zum Thema


Warum ist Folter immer falsch und nutzlos? Wie engagiert sich Amnesty für die Wahrung des absoluten Folterverbots? Mehr


Grundlegende Infos über die Menschenrechte und die verschiedenen internationalen Abkommen. Mehr