Our Voices

RFK Human Rights Condemns the Enforced Disappearance of Mahmoud Hussein and Reiterates Call for his Immediate Release

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is deeply concerned by the enforced disappearance of Egyptian anti-torture protestor Mahmoud Hussein, also known as the “t-shirt detainee.” Since 2014, Mahmoud has been abused and tortured by Egyptian authorities and has yet to experience complete freedom.

Mahmoud was first arbitrarily arrested in 2014 for wearing a t-shirt that bore the slogan “a nation without torture.” He was released on bail after over two years in arbitrary pre-trial detention. However, in August of 2023, Mahmoud was re-arrested on matters associated with his first imprisonment. On April 23, 2024, his family was provided a glimmer of hope when the judge presiding over his current trial ordered Mahmoud’s release upon bail payment. The morning after the judge’s order was issued, Mahmoud’s lawyers paid the set bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds and complied with all other administrative requirements.

Despite adhering to all bail requirements, Mahmoud’s release orders have been delayed for nearly a month. The Egyptian authorities transferred Mahmoud from Badr 1 prison to four different police stations (on five occasions). During these transfers, Mahmoud’s family lost contact with him for periods of time, unsure of his whereabouts. The authorities have also deprived him of food and prescribed medication.

These delays and transfers have culminated in Mahmoud’s enforced disappearance. On May 19, 2024, Mahmoud’s lawyers visited the El-Khanka Police Station, where they were last informed by the authorities that he was being held. After consulting with the station chief, Mahmoud’s lawyers were told that he was not at the station. Mahmoud’s whereabouts remain unknown. Unfortunately, this is not the first time he has gone missing at the hands of the Egyptian government. After Mahmoud’s re-arrest in August 2023, Egyptian authorities forcibly disappeared Mahmoud for five days. During that time, he was held in three separate locations and interrogated while blindfolded, without the presence of his lawyer. While kidnapped, security forces raided Mahmoud’s home and took his computer, printer, and personal belongings.

RFK Human Rights remains deeply concerned about Egypt’s continued disregard for international human rights standards. Mahmoud’s arrest, torture, and enforced disappearance signify the lengths that the Government will go to cripple civic space. For ten years, Mahmoud has lived in a nightmare, simply for dreaming of a nation without torture. We call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mahmoud Hussein.