Human Rights Behind Bars in Egypt

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Latest Updates

  • Imprisonment renewal for 24 Nubian activists

    A court in Aswan renewed the imprisonment of 24 prominent Nubian activists, including lawyer Mohamed Azmi, former president of the Nubian Union, and lawyer Munir Bashir, president of the Nubian Lawyers’ Association, pending investigations. The charges concern demonstrating without permit and disrupting public security during a peaceful march demanding the return of their ancestral land.

  • Pre-trial detention for the coordinator of the League of Families of the Disappeared

    Lawyer Ibrahim Metwally in pre-trial detention for 15 days pending investigation, after being prevented of attending UN event in Geneva. He is investigated on charges of leading an unlawful organisation and communicating with foreign entities with the purpose of harming national security.

  • Foundation on enforced disappearance still not authorised

    The hearing in the case of the Foundation for the Victims of Abduction and Enforced Disappearance has been postponed to December. The foundation had filed a lawsuit challenging what he considered the arbitrary decision of the Ministry of Social Solidarity to reject the establishment of the foundation.

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The Activists

Alaa Abdel Fattah

Alaa Abdel Fattah

in prison for 885 days

Alaa Abdel Fattah is an Egyptian activist born in 1981. As a Free Open Source Software developer and human rights activist, he has been at the forefront of the struggle for change in Egypt for many years, working relentlessly for the “bread, freedom and social justice” called for by the 2011 revolution. As a result, he has the unfortunate distinction of having been arrested not only by Mubarak but also all the different regimes that have ruled Egypt since the 2011 revolution.

Alaa is currently in prison in Egypt serving a five-year sentence after a trial that has been deemed unfair by international observers. Since being in prison for his current sentence, Alaa’s father, renowned human rights and constitutional lawyer, Ahmad Seif, has died at 60 and his younger sister, Sanaa, has been tried – also for protesting – and served 14 months of a two-year jail sentence.

Follow the campaign for his release on Facebook.

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Ismail Al-Iskandarani

Ismail Al-Iskandarani

in prison for 663 days

Ismail Al-Iskandarani is a researcher and journalist who was detained upon his return to Egypt from Germany on 29 November 2015.

After having been held for more than ten hours at the airport, he was later moved to State Security Prosecution after the authorities searched his laptop and found articles he wrote on Sinai and other political issues. He was interrogated on charges of belonging to an illegal group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and spreading its ideas, in addition to intentionally disseminating false information

Mr Iskandarani is one of very few well-informed journalists and researchers to have published extensively on the political, security and human rights situation in the Sinai Peninsula. In that context, he has provided rare and credible analysis on the conditions endured by the civilian population of North Sinai, an area where a sweeping counter-insurgency operation is being implemented by the military.

Read more on his blog (in Arabic) about Sinai and this petition for his release.

Ismail al-Iskandarani is an associate researcher with the Arab Reform Initiative, and was a guest researcher at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

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Mohamed Ramadan

Mohamed Ramadan

Released 33 days ago

Mohamed Ramadan is a human rights lawyer based in Alexandria. He has used his legal expertise to defend human rights activists and political prisoners in Egypt. He has also worked on cases of torture in police stations.

Ramadan has worked at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Since 2014, he was a member of its Lawyers for Democracy Initiative, monitoring and documenting democracy in the country. He was also part of the legal team that represented woman human rights defender Mahienour El-Masry, who was sentenced to prison for violating the Protest Law.

In 2014, Ramadan was detained and mistreated in a police station in Alexandria after he attempted to file a complaint against the detention of Syrian refugees at the same station. In November 2016, security forces raided his house and arrested his mother and his sister. He was detained again, interrogated in December 2016 and charged with insulting the National Security on social media.

In April 2017, Ramadan was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison, followed by five years of house arrest and a ban on using the internet for the same period. The decision was based on violations of the Counter-terrorism Law 94/2015, known for its wide definition of “terrorist act”, after he allegedly created a Facebook account expressing opinions that could potentially "disrupt public order" and "harm national unit".

He was arrested in June 2017 from a cafe in Alexandria, in the context of the protests against the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. He has been charged in three different cases, but the hearings continue to be adjourned.

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Mahmoud Abu Zeid (Shawkan)

Mahmoud Abu Zeid (Shawkan)

in prison for 1500 days

Mahmoud is an Egyptian photojournalist who was arrested along with two other journalists while he was taking pictures of the August 14, 2013 Rabaa massacre.

He has spent four years in pre-trial detention, but it was only on 26 March 2016 that he was charged with nine offences, including murder which puts him at risk of the death penalty.

In one of the last court session of his trial that took place on 27 December 2016, the judge read out a report by the Tora prison doctor, which stated that Shawkan was in good health. This contradicts claims by Shawkan’s family that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C before his arrest on 14 August 2013.

Shawkan have accused prison authorities of physical abuse and prevention of access to medicines and personal hygiene products. In the meantime, the ongoing trial had been systematically adjourned, pending a report on videos documenting the violent dispersal of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-in in August 2013, and a response from Egypt’s Central Security Agency.

It is worth noting that so far, no evidence has been presented to establish that Mahmoud Abu Zeid is responsible for the offences with which he is charged and his camera has not been used as evidence which makes his status as a prisoner ambiguous.

In the letter he wrote in May 2015, marking 600 days in pre-trial detention, Shawkan narrates the hardships of his conditions in prison: "Tora prison is like a cemetery. It is a place where dreams come to die".

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Hisham Jaafar

Hisham Jaafar

in prison for 702 days

Mr Jaafar is the director of the Mada Foundation for Media Development and a member of the Journalists’ Syndicate. He was arrested when security forces stormed the headquarters of Mada on 21 October 2015. He was interrogated by the state security prosecution and his lawyers were barred from attending the interrogation. He is accused of receiving illegal foreign funding and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Jaafar's pre-trial detention has been systematically renewed for periods of 45 days, pending investigations in case 720/2015. He has spent most of his time in prision in al-Aqrab/Scorpion, the maximum-security wing of the Tora prison compound.

In October 2017, Jaafar will have spent two years in the Scorpion prison in pre-trial detention, which is the maximum period allowed by the law. International human rights organisations have highlighted his deteriorating health conditions as he lacks sufficient medical treatment.

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Azza Soliman

Azza Soliman

Azza Soliman is a prominent lawyer and the founder of the Center for Women's Legal Assistance (CEWLA). She is currently serving on its board of trustees. CEWLA is a feminist organisation that campaigns to promote gender equality, focusing in particular on legislative reform and awareness-raising.

In November 2016, Azza Soliman’s personal bank account and that of her law firm, Lawyers for Justice and Peace, were frozen by instruction of the Central Bank. Shortly after that, when trying to flight to Jordan to participate in a training on human rights, she was notified that she was banned from travelling.

In December 2016, she was arrested from her home and escorted to the police station by security forces. She was later transferred to the New Cairo court where she was interrogated by the investigative judge of case no 173, known as the foreign funding case. Released on bail in the evening, she is nevertheless currently under investigation, charged with tax evasion, receiving illegal foreign funding "with the aim of harming national security”, and founding an illegal entity.

In July 2017, two of her colleagues at the LJP, Seham Ali and Abeer Ali, were summoned for questioning by the investigative judge, accused of the same charges. Abeer could not attend the interrogation and Seham, who was reportedly asked about Azza’s activism, was released on bail.

Azza has appealed both the travel ban and the assets freeze decision, finding out that the general prosecutor’s list (the only legal list regarding travel bans) did not include her name and that, in consequence, the travel ban is illegal.  However, sessions for both cases are systematically postponed, evidencing the length of the judicial procedure.

Azza Soliman was a witness to a murder of activist Shaimaa ElSabbagh, who was killed while peacefully protesting on 24 January 2015. Two months later, the Qasr El Nile Prosecution Office in Cairo changed Ms Soliman’s status from being a witness to the killing of Shaimaa ElSabbagh to a defendant, accused of protesting illegally. She was acquitted of the charges, which the prosecutor subsequently appealed.

 

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Malek Adly

Malek Adly

Malek Adly is a prominent human rights lawyer and the director of Lawyers Network at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), which seeks to promote and mobilise social movements to spread the culture of human rights.

He is one the founders of the Front for Defending Egypt's Protesters, a group comprising of 34 human rights organisations and several lawyers, which documents illegal practices carried out by state police forces against peaceful protesters.

Upon his arrest in Cairo’s Maadi district on 5 May 2016, Malek Adly was charged with attempting to overthrow the regime, accused of "inciting protests" rejecting the deal between Egypt and Saudi Arabia over two Red Sea islands. He was transferred to Tora prison, where he was reportedly mistreated and beaten in detention, and denied family and lawyer visitation rights.

On 28 August 2016, he was released from prison after having spent nearly 4 months in pre-trial detention in solitary confinement. Although free, the case against him has not been dropped.

Additionally, in August 2017, Malek Adly was summoned for interrogation by the investigative judge in case 173/2011, known as the Foreign Funding case, accused of conducting activities with the purpose of "harming national security" as an employee at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center in 2010.

He is subject to a travel ban.

 

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Mohamed Lotfy

Mohamed Lotfy

Mohamed Lotfy is the founder and executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), an organisation that works in several governorates across Egypt to protect human rights, provide documentation and deliver pro-bono legal aid to victims of human rights violations. As a human rights defender, Mohamed Lotfy advocates on a broad range of issues, including enforced disappearance and freedom of association and assembly in Egypt.

On 2 June 2015, a travel ban was imposed on him by Egyptian state security, preventing him to attend a public event at the German Parliament during an Egyptian presidential visit to Berlin, where Mr Lotfy was meant to speak.

As the travel ban was issued, he was also detained for several hours at the airport and his passport was confiscated before he was allowed to return home. An officer in civilian clothes explained that the ban was being imposed for “security reasons” and informed him that he would be summoned for interrogation by the National Security Service. Then, on 20 October 2016, the Giza office of ECRF was raided. This is part of a broader trend of systematic intimidations against human rights defenders by the Egyptian authorities.

Mohamed Lotfy previously worked as an Egypt campaigner and researcher at Amnesty International focusing on police and military human rights violations. He has also worked for the World Organisation against Torture, the International Commission of Jurists and the International Organization for Migration. He holds a master’s degree in European studies and a License in Political sciences from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. Mohamed is married and has one child.

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Esraa Abdel Fattah

Esraa Abdel Fattah

Esraa Abdel Fattah is an Egyptian political activist. She advocates through digital media for human rights and in defence of youth protest movements in Egypt.

On 13 January 2015, Ms Abdel Fattah was prevented from boarding a flight to Germany as the police officers at the Cairo Airport informed her that a travel ban has been issued against her, without any prior notification. She filed a lawsuit to ask for the travel ban to be lifted, but in June 2015 the Cairo Administrative Court decided to uphold it. A decision that was upheld by the Criminal Court of South Cairo District in December 2015.

She has been under a travel ban for 23 months without any investigation or case file. The only information that she has received is that she is investigated as part of the case no 173/2011, known as the “foreign funding” case, in which leading Egyptian human rights defenders are targeted.

In 2008, Ms Abdel Fattah became known for co-founding the 6th of April movement during the mass protests against workers’ low wages and increasing food prices. She called for a day of civil disobedience on Facebook that mobilised thousands of young people asking for political change. She was imprisoned for several weeks by the Egyptian security for her role in organising the protest. During the 25th January uprising in 2011, she took a leading role in keeping the media updated about the situation on the ground.

She became a symbol of resistance and struggle for women human rights defenders and the youth movement in Egypt, which earned her international attention and recognition. Freedom House awarded her the “New Generation Democratic Activist” prize in 2010; she was nominated “Woman of the Year, 2011” by Glamour magazine and she was among the nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize 2011.

 

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Mozn Hassan

Mozn Hassan

Mozn Hassan is a woman human rights defender and the founder and executive director of Nazra for Feminist Studies (www.nazra.org) a feminist organisation working in Egypt and the MENA region on gender equality and combatting violence against women.

She was summoned to appear before a judge investigating what is known as the “foreign funding case” after her participation at the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in March 2016.

On June 2016, airport authorities in Cairo prevented her from travelling to Beirut, where she was supposed to participate in the executive committee meeting of the Women Human Rights Defenders Regional Coalition for the Middle East and North Africa, as a regional expert.  This travel ban is a clear reprisal measure designed to silence her voice and to stop her from participating in international advocacy.

Ms Hassan also published several articles on the issue of sexual violence against women in the public space and women's political participation.

She is among the 2016 laureates for the Right Livelihood Award, but due to the ban, she has not been able to travel to receive the prize. In 2013, Ms Hassan has been awarded the inaugural Charlotte Bunch Human Rights Defender prize in at the Global Fund for Women’s 25th Anniversary. Ms Hassan is also a Board Member with the Global Fund for Women and the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID), as well as a member of the Regional Experts' Committee of the Regional Coalition for Women Human Rights Defenders in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

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Gamal Eid

Gamal Eid

Gamal Eid is a prominent human rights defender and executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI). Mr Eid founded ANHRI in 2004 with the aim of establishing an organisation to defend human rights in general, and freedom of expression in particular in Egypt and the Arab world through research and legal support to victims.

On 4 February 2016, Mr Eid was denied by Cairo Airport officials from boarding a flight to Athens.  He had no prior knowledge, no notification or summon for investigation regarding the travel ban and didn’t receive any information about the judicial body responsible for it.

Mr Eid is a lawyer who graduated from `Ain Shams University College of Law and served as a defence attorney in several human rights cases during the Mubarak era.

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Mohamed Zaree

Mohamed Zaree

Mohamed Zaree has been the Egypt Office Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) since 2014. He leads CIHRS’ research, human rights education, media outreach and national advocacy activities in Egypt. He also coordinates the Forum of Independent Egyptian Human Rights NGOs, created in 2007.

Since 2012, Mohammed Zaree has represented CIHRS in several official committees charged with drafting a new NGO law for Egypt. He has advocated for freedom of association with different Egyptian ministries under the presidencies of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Mohammad Morsi and Adly Mansour.

On 26 May 2016, Mohamed Zaree was stopped at Cairo International Airport before boarding a flight for a business trip. The officers informed him that a travel ban had been imposed on him, based on an order by the investigative judge of the case no 173/2011, known as the “foreign funding case.”

Mohamed Zaree is a leading protagonist of Egypt’s human rights movement and remains the representative of CIHRS in Egypt. However, his personal safety and freedom are at risk due to the prosecution of the foreign funding case, which targets many human rights defenders in Egypt. As part of the repressive pre-trial measures, CIHRS’ assets were frozen on 17 September 2016.

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Negad El Borai

Negad El Borai

Negad El Borai is a prominent human rights lawyer and a well-known figure in Egypt’s civil society. He chairs the law firm United Group for Law, which provides legal support to civil society organisations and victims of human rights violations. The firm also engages in monitoring and documentation of human rights violations pertaining to freedom of expression and opinion, and conducts workshops to raise awareness on these issues.

In March 2015, the High Judicial Council filed a complaint against him for drafting a law for the prevention of torture in line with Egypt’s international commitments, organising a workshop for open discussion with other experts and advocating for its promulgation before the Egyptian authorities. Since then, he has been summoned on five occasions and arrested for “implementing human rights activities without a license”, “deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest” and “receiving illegal funds”.

In July 2017, an administrative court banned United Group from conducting human rights activities; endorsing the Social Affairs Ministry’s decision to prohibit the law firm’s recognition as a civil society group for purportedly violating the Law on associations and non-governmental organizations (Law 84/2002).

Negad El Borai is currently under a travel ban that hinders his peaceful work. The travel ban, based on the controversial foreign funding case, was notified to him in January 2017 as he attempted to attend a conference in Jordan.

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Ahmed Ragheb

Ahmed Ragheb

Mr Ahmed Ragheb is a lawyer and founder of the National Community for Human Rights and Law (NCHRL). He works to promote and protect human rights through NCHRL and in his capacity as a lawyer.

On 15 November 2016, Mr Ahmed Ragheb was told by passport control officials at Cairo International Airport that he was banned from travelling based on a judicial order issued against him in May 2016 by an investigative judge, apparently in relation to the “foreign funding case” against NGOs. He was travelling to Morocco to participate in the twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) of the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The order was issued without his knowledge and without known charges against him.

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Abdel Hafez Tayel

Abdel Hafez Tayel

Abdel Hafez Tayel is the founder of the Egyptian Center for the Right to Education, an organisation promoting human rights education in Egypt.

On 17 September 2016, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed the order to freeze his personal assets based on an accusation of illegally receiving foreign funding. If found guilty, he can face up to 25 years of imprisonment.

In November 2016, Abdel Hafez Tayel was heading to Kuwait to attend an international conference on education when airport authorities detained him for several hours before ordering him to head home. He was banned from travelling.

In June 2017, Abdel Hafez Tayel was summoned for interrogation, formally charged and interrogated by the investigative judge in the "foreign funding case" against NGOs. Tayel is accussed of receiving foreign funding with the aim of harming national security, establishing the independent Teachers' Union in violation of the law, tax evasion and “moral fraud”.

Tayel has also been questioned about an article he wrote calling ex-President Mubarak a criminal.

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Aida Seif Al-Dawla

Aida Seif Al-Dawla

One of the founders of Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, she was issued a travel ban on 23rd November 2016 on the basis of her involvement in an unspecified court case.

She had not received any prior notice of the ban from the public prosecutor, but an officer at the airport, where she was first stopped, suggested her lawyer gave the wrong address.

The Al-Nadeem Center’s rehabilitation clinic was threatened with closure in February 2016 following a dispute with the Health Ministry over the legality of the team's advocacy work against torture. The closure was executed a year later in 2017 and is currently being contested by the center in court. The case was adjourned to September 2017.

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Nasser Amin

Nasser Amin

Nasser Amin is the director of the Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession in Egypt, as well as the Chairman of the Complaints Committee of the quasi-official National Council for Human Rights. He has worked on cases of enforced disappearances and torture, which he has described as a systematic pattern.

On the 14 July 2016, he was prevented from travelling to Beirut for a conference by the security officers at Cairo International airport based on an order of the Public Prosecutor. The reason behind the travel ban was not stated by the authorities.

 

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Hoda Abd El-Wahab

Hoda Abd El-Wahab

Hoda Abd El-Wahab is a lawyer and Executive Director of the Arab Centre for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, a regional organisation established in Cairo in March 1997

On 20 June 2016, she was travelling to Oslo to participate in an international conference on the death penalty when she was informed by officials at Cairo International Airport that a judicial order imposed a travel ban on her. Hoda Abd El-Wahab believes that this is related to case 173/2011, known as the foreign funding case against NGOs in Egypt, which was reopened in 2016. She was not formally notified of this order and has yet to be informed of any further action to be taken.

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Hossam Al-Din Ali

Hossam Al-Din Ali

On 27 February 2016, the director of the Egyptian Democratic Academy, Hossam Al-Din Ali, was stopped at Cairo International Airport and barred from travelling to the United States. He was on his way to an international conference on ways to fight corruption. He discovered his travel ban at Cairo international airport, as he had not been notified of it.

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Hossam Bahgat

Hossam Bahgat

Hossam Bahgat is an Egyptian human rights defender and investigative journalist. He is the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and a journalist for Mada Masr. He was arrested from 8 to 10 November 2015, summoned by military intelligence for ‘publishing false news that harmed national interests and disseminating information that disturbed public peace’. He had written a series of articles concerning the army and military trials.

In January 2016, he was again critical of the Egyptian regime, when he argued that the ‘level of repression now [is] significantly higher than it was under the Mubarak regime’.

In February 2016, he was prevented from traveling to Jordan in order to participate in a United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia conference on justice in the Arab world.

On 17 September 2016, the Cairo Criminal Court confirmed the order to freeze his personal assets.

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Omar Hazek

Omar Hazek

Omar Hazek is a human rights defender, a renowned poet from Alexandria and an honorary member of the Austrian chapter of PEN International. He has been an outspoken critic of the use of torture by the Egyptian police and of corruption in public institutions.

Hazek was on his way to The Hague to accept the 2016 Oxfam Novib/PEN Award for Freedom of Expression, the award is given annually to honour writers who have fought courageously for freedom of expression in the face of great adversity and despite the risk to their own lives. When he arrived at Cairo airport he was detained, questioned and later released after several hours of questioning, along with being given a travel ban.

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Video

What is the Foreign Funding Case?

Find out more about the Foreign Funding Case (no 173) targeting Human Rights Defenders in Egypt. #HarassNoMore #FreeHRDs

Testimonies

Is it a crime to defend human rights in Egypt?

My work on human rights was the reason why I travelled outside of Egypt on many occasions. I always saw myself as a lucky person as this also brought the opportunity to discover different cultures and meet colleagues from other countries, sharing common aspirations in the defence of economic and social rights.

But every time I travelled, I knew where, when and how I would return. Until my last departure from Egypt, I had always held a round-trip ticket.

Click here to read full testimony

"It is true that I do not feel secure there but I do miss my homeland wherever I am."

About this Campaign

 

 

This campaign is a joint initiative of EuroMed Rights and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) to gather public support for

  • the release of all Egyptian activists currently held in prison
  • the end of growing harassment from the Egyptian authorities

Egyptian activists are striving for human rights, democracy and other fundamental freedoms, yet have been targeted since 2011 for their role in defending and promoting civil, political and economic rights. Due to their prominent contribution in initiating change, many Egyptian activists are being targeted, threatened, prosecuted in political trials and sentenced to long prison terms.

In Egyptian President Sisi’s own words, “(…) there are many innocent people inside prisons, soon many of them will be released according to the available permissions” (declared on television on 22 February 2015)

This systematic crackdown on dissent must stop. All detained activists must be freed and this permanent harassment ended!

Take action and show your support and solidarity.

Every voice counts! Help us in getting as many as possible!

"Putting peaceful activists behind bars may give the authorities a feeling of control, but it’s illusory – and it’s certainly not the road to building a democratic political system."

Ahdaf Soueif - Author, Egypt

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Imprisoned and harassed activists need your help and your voice!

Take action now and show your support by sharing this campaign.

Spread the word and share this campaign via Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. You can use our Tweet template below

Support @EMHRN & take action to #HarassNoMore #HumanRights activists in #Egypt http://ow.ly/VjUge (add your picture to the tweet)

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