Skip to main content

Egypt: Rights groups call for immediate release of prominent activist

The detained April 6 movement leader Mohamed Adel has been sentenced to four years in prison after already serving five years in pre-trial detention on charges deemed politically motivated
Mohamed Adel (right) has been sentenced to four years in prison, which rights groups say is based on "bogus charges" (Reuters)

A number of human rights organisations have penned a letter calling for the immediate release of the Egyptian political activist Mohamed Adel, who they said is detained on "bogus charges".

The letter, published Wednesday, outlined that Adel, who is the former spokesperson of the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt and one of the icons of the 2011 pro-democracy uprising, was detained solely for exercising his freedom of expression.

Adel, who has already spent five years in pre-trial detention, was sentenced to four years in prison on 2 September by a misdemeanor court in Aga, Mansoura on charges of "spreading false news on social media". 

In the joint statement signed by 28 Egyptian and international rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, the NGOs stated that Adel has faced an unfair trial.

“He has been held in pre-trial detention for three separate cases with similar charges, including involvement with an unlawful group and spreading false news, in violation of the maximum period for pretrial detention of two years and undermining the guarantees of a fair trial,” the letter stated.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


Among the signatories of the letter are the Egyptian Front for Human Rights, The Committee for Justice, Sinai Foundation for Human Rights and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

The rights groups stressed that Adel’s imprisonment violates his rights and is further evidence of the “ongoing disregard for the rule of law and the vengeful targeting of activists”.

Egypt: Detained government critic Hisham Kassem begins hunger strike
Read More »

Adel is among an estimated 65,000 political prisoners held in custody since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power in a coup more than 10 years ago.

Sisi, the former defence minister who ousted his democratically elected predecessor Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, has launched a relentless crackdown on his critics, including journalists, political activists and human rights defenders.

Thousands are held indefinitely in pre-trial detention as they face renewed charges after the expiry of their two-year maximum provisional detention period. 

Earlier this month, the outspoken Sisi critic and publisher Hisham Kassem was arrested and later started a hunger strike in prison against what he considers as politically motivated detention.

The Egyptian government does not have an official record of the number of prisoners, and Sisi denies his country has any political prisoners. Yet, the Sisi government has sponsored a "human rights strategy" in recent years to address the political detainees crisis.

As part of the initiative, some 1,000 political prisoners have been released in the past year. But rights groups downplayed the seriousness of the initiative, saying that almost three times as many Sisi opponents have been rounded up over the same period.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.