Our Voices

RFK Human Rights Condemns the Re-sentencing of Mahmoud Hussein “the T-Shirt Detainee” and Calls for His Immediate Release

On June 26, 2024, an Emergency State Security Court (ESSC) sentenced anti-torture protestor Mahmoud Hussein to three years in prison. RFK Human Rights condemns the decision of the ESSC to unjustly re-sentence Mahmoud for simply wearing an anti-torture t-shirt and protest scarf. We urgently call on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to remedy this gross miscarriage of justice by immediately and unconditionally releasing Mahmoud.

Mahmoud was a young, hopeful student when he was first arrested in 2014 for wearing a January 25 protest scarf and a t-shirt with the slogan, “a nation without torture,” while on his way home from a peaceful demonstration commemorating the January 25 Revolution. Following Mahmoud’s arrest, the authorities tortured him and forced him to falsely confess to various fabricated charges. Without ever filing formal charges or presenting evidence against him, the authorities held Mahmoud in pre-trial detention for over two years. In response to domestic and international pressure, Mahmoud was released on bail in March 2016. 

Seven years later, Mahmoud was arbitrarily arrested and detained for a second time on August 30, 2023, on the basis of a judgment delivered against him in absentia in 2018. Several months later, on January 2, 2024, a re-trial commenced. Proceedings were adjourned five times before he was released on bail on April 23. Through this period, Mahmoud remained in cruel and inhumane detention conditions in Badr prison, and his health deteriorated. 

While Mahmoud’s bail provided a glimmer of hope, he has once again been reminded of his detention’s sobering and unjust reality. Unfortunately, as today’s verdict was issued by an ESSC, Mahmoud is prevented from exercising his right to an appeal. 

“Mahmoud has now spent almost three years wrongfully detained simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression by sharing his hope for a nation without torture,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “By referring Mahmoud’s case to an emergency court without proper justification and issuing this verdict, Egypt has shown its blatant disregard for human rights and due process. President el-Sisi must act now to release Mahmoud immediately. The US government must also do its part to secure Mahmoud’s release.” 

“This sad verdict, coming on the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, underscores the Egyptian authorities’ flagrant disregard for human rights and democracy,” said Ikechukwu Uzoma, Staff Attorney at Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “It is imperative that Egypt complies with its binding obligations under domestic and international law to respect Mahmoud’s rights and releases Mahmoud immediately so that he can continue to recover from this harrowing ordeal,” he added.