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Egypt Doubles Down on State-Sponsored Crackdown of Peaceful Activists

2/17/2016Staff Article

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(February 17, 2016 | Washington, D.C.) In a troubling development, more than two years after his arbitrary arrest on January 25, 2014, Egypt’s East Cairo Prosecution has referred 20 year old Mahmoud Mohamed Ahmed Hussein’s case to the Supreme State Security Prosecution for further investigation.

“The government's sudden decision that a different branch of the prosecution is more ‘competent’ to investigate Mahmoud's case after holding him in jail without charge for more than two years is a travesty of justice,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “This demonstrates just how desperate the government has become to cover-up its systematic crackdown on freedom of speech and peaceful protest. If the government has any respect for human rights, the rule of law, and the well-being of its own engaged citizenry, they should release Mahmoud immediately.”

Arrested for wearing an anti-torture t-shirt, Mahmoud has been held in pretrial detention without charge for over two years in violation of Egypt's domestic law and international human rights obligations. The referral of his case to the State Security Prosecution, the branch of the prosecution charged with investigating terrorism and matters of national security, further violates his due process rights. If the State Security Prosecution accepts the case, Mahmoud could face a sham trial involving a branch of the prosecution that frequently refuses to provide lawyers with official charge sheets and makes it extremely difficult for representatives to meet with their clients.

The referral comes one-week after Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Washington, D.C. and publicly denied that the Egyptian government was cracking down on activists, journalists, and peaceful political dissidents.

Mahmoud is represented by Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights before the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD). More information on Mahmoud's case is available here, here, and here.