EGY 003 / 0518 / OBS 071.2
Ongoing judicial harassment
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint 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.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the conditional release of Mr. Wael Abbas, a journalist and 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 December 2, 2018, the Giza Criminal Court’s 14thTerrorism Chamber ordered the conditional release of Mr. Wael Abbas. The decision was confirmed by Giza Criminal Court’s 25thSouth Giza Criminal Chamber in appeal following on December 3, 2018. According to the applicable procedure, Mr. Wael Abbas will only be effectively released from Tora prison, where is held in pre-trial detention since May 24, 2018 over terrorist charges in criminal case 441 (see background information below) in a few days.
Mr. Wael Abbas will have to present himself at the police station of his place of residence twice a week, 2 hours each day. He will appear every 45 days before the court to decide on the renewal of his conditional release until either the case is referred to the court or is closed by the State Security Prosecution.
The Observatory welcomes the release on probation of Mr. Wael Abbas and thanks all individuals, organisations, and institutions who intervened in his favour. However, the Observatory recalls that Mr. Wael Abbas should have never been detained in the first place, andcondemns the ongoing judicial harassment he is still facing in retaliation to his human rights activities.
The Observatory recalls that 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 the Egyptian authorities, and his Twitteraccount has been suspended since December 2017. In January 2018, Mr. Wael Abbas reported that this suspension was linked to pending accusations of being connected to ISIS (see background information).
The Observatory further denounces a wider trend of harassment and arbitrary detention against human rights defenders in Egypt. Since the beginning of 2018, the Observatory has documented the arbitrary detention of several human rights defenders, including of Ms. Amal Fathyand Dr. Shadi al-Ghazali Harb.
The Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Wael Abbas and to ensure human rights defenders in Egypt are able to carry out their legitimate and peaceful human rights work without fear of hindrance or reprisals.
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 Facebookaccount saying he was being arrested. He was taken blindfolded to an unknown location after the police seized computers, telephones, some books and several other items that belong to him.
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 criminal 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.
Subsequently, his pre-trial detention was renewed every 15 days.
Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Wael Abbas and of all human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Wael Abbas and put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Wael Abbas and all human rights defenders in the country and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals;
iii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 1, and 12.2;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments to which Egypt is a state party.
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Egypt in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, December 4, 2018
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 See the Observatory Urgent Appeals EGY 002 / 0518 / OBS 059 published on May 12, 2018, EGY 002 / 0518 / OBS 059.5 published on July 3, 2018, EGY 002 / 0518 / OBS 059.7 published on October 1, 2018, and EGY 002 / 0518 / OBS 059.8 published on November 13, 2018.
 See the Observatory Urgent Appeals EGY 004 / 0718 / OBS 090 published on July 4, 2018 and EGY 004 / 0718 / OBS 090.1 published on July 26, 2018.