Detained lawyer denied adequate healthcare
Amnesty International has documented the arrest of 15 individuals in case 930/2019 known as “Hope case”. The list of detainees includes Zyad el-Elaimy, a former parliamentarian, human rights lawyer and one of the leaders of the Egyptian Social Democratic party, journalist and spokesperson for the leftist Popular Current party Hossam Moanis, journalist, trade unionist and socialist politician Hisham Fouad, as well as 12 others arrested on separate dates between 9 June and 11 July. At least seven have been subjected to enforced disappearances, while at least eight were subjected to torture and other ill-treatment including electric shocks, beatings and threats. Amnesty International is aware of 105 individuals being investigated in the case; many of them are currently detained.
The individuals in the case are currently held in pre-trial detention pending investigations by the Supreme State Security Prosecution into unfounded charges of “aiding a terrorist group”, “membership in a terrorist group” and “spreading false information”, in addition to other charges. The charges relate to legitimate activities including participation in public affairs, peaceful expression and defending human rights.
The case came to light on 25 June 2019, when the ministry of interior announced in a statement that it had uncovered “a joint plot between the Muslim Brotherhood’s exiled leadership and the civil opposition [in Egypt] to target the state and its institutions in order to oust it on 30 June.” The statement refers to the involvement of several Muslim Brotherhood and opposition figures abroad, as well as the arrest of an unspecified number of individuals inside Egypt, including eight mentioned by name.
Egypt has seen a rise in the number of detainees being held in pre-trial detention for months and sometimes years over terrorism-related charges, in many cases based on police investigations alone. Two months after the amendment of Law 8/2015 on Terrorist Entities and Terrorists in February 2020, a terrorism circuit in Cairo’s Criminal Court included Zyad and 12 other individuals in Egypt’s “terrorism" lists for five years. The recent amendments give the Public Prosecutor the power to submit to courts lists of entities and persons to be designated as “terrorists” regardless of whether an alleged “terrorist act” has actually occurred and based only on “police investigation or information”. Zyad was added to the list without any hearings or due process. Zyad's lawyer appealed the court decision.
The Egyptian authorities have orchestrated a brutal crackdown on critics and opponents from across the whole political spectrum, from supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to leftist or liberal activists, and even supporters of former President Hosni Mubarak. The crackdown has also targeted journalists, lawyers, doctors, staff of civil society organizations, and the general public, including football fans and individuals voicing criticism to economic or social conditions. These arrests are effectively turning Egypt into an open-air prison with no opposition, critics or independent reporting allowed.
Amnesty International believes that these arrests are directly related to a coalition's plans to unite secular parties ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in April-May 2020. The arrests follow a similar pattern observed in 2017 ahead of the 2018 presidential elections when the Egyptian authorities launched an unprecedented crackdown on political opponents and critics that culminated with the arrest of President al-Sisi’s contenders and their supporters. Egypt has amended its constitution in 2019 pushing back the date of the presidential election to 2024 instead of 2022, effectively allowing President al-Sisi to stay in power until 2030.