Egypt: Ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Wael Abbas

31/05/2018
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 003 / 0518 / OBS 071.1
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Egypt
May 31, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Wael Abbas, journalist. He is the author of the Misrdigital blog since 2006, in which he documents cases of corruption, harassment of women, police brutality and discusses Egyptian society.

According to the information received, on May 24, 2018, Mr. Wael Abbas appeared before the state security prosecution, after being held incommunicado for 24 hours, and was formally charged with “belonging to a terrorist group”, “publishing and spreading false news” and “using a website to spread the ideologies of this terrorist group” under case number 441 of 2018 state security. The prosecutor ordered the detention of Mr. Wael Abbas for 15 days in pre-trial detention pending investigation. Only one of his lawyer was allowed during the investigation session. Mr. Wael Abbas is detained at Tora prison.

This is not the first time that Mr. Wael Abbas is targeted by the authorities for his human rights activities, as in the past years his Facebook account had been temporarily taken down by Egyptian authorities, and his Twitter account has been suspended since December 2017. In January 2018, Mr. Wael Abbasreported that this suspension was linked to pending accusations of being connected to ISIS.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Mr. Wael Abbas, and urges the Egyptian authorities to ensure he has unhindered access to his family and lawyers as well as to ensure his psychological and physical integrity.

The Observatory further urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Wael Abbas as his detention is arbitrary and clearly aims at punishing his peaceful and legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory is particularly concerned as Mr. Wael Abbas is the third human rights defenders to be arrested since May 11, 2018, together with Ms. Amal Fathy [1] and Mr. Haytham Mohamadein [2] who both remain arbitrarily detained.

Background information:

On May 23, 2018 at 4:30 am, Mr. Wael Abbas’ apartment was raided by heavily armed police personnel who did not present any warrant. Mr. Wael Abbas posted a message on his Facebook account saying he was being arrested. He was taken blindfolded to an unknown location after they seized computers, telephones, some books and several other items that belong to him.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Wael Abbasand all human rights defenders in Egypt;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Wael Abbasas his detention is arbitrary and merely aimed at punishing him for his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, Mr. Wael Abbasand all human rights defenders in Egypt, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Articles 1, 6(c) and 12.2; and

v. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Egypt.

Addresses:

· President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Fax: +202 2391 1441. Email:p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
· Prime Minister, Mr. Sherif Ismail. Fax: + 202 2735 6449 / 27958016.
· Minister of the Interior, Mr. Magdi Abdel-Ghaffar, Fax: +202 2579 2031 / 2794 5529
· Minister of Justice, Mohamed Hossam Abdel-Rahim, Fax: +202 2795 8103 

· Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, Fax: +202 3337 5390
· Public Prosecutor, Counsellor Nabeel Sadek, Fax: +202 2577 4716
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council For Human Rights, Fax: + 202 25747497 / 25747670. Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
· H.E. Mr. Amr Ramadan, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@ties.itu.int, Fax: +41 22 738 44 15
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 675.58.88; Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.

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