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Egypt: Prominent blogger attempts suicide in prison

First arrested in 2018, Mohamed Ibrahim has long been denied sufficient healthcare in Egypt’s notorious Tora prison
A picture taken during a guided tour organised by Egypt's State Information Service on 11 February, 2020, shows an Egyptian policeman standing guard at the Tora prison on the southern outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo. (AFP/Khaled Desouki)

A Cairo-based rights group has condemned the treatment of a prominent Egyptian blogger following reports that he attempted suicide in Egypt’s notorious Tora prison. 

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) issued a statement on Monday condemning the crackdown on the blogger Mohammed Ibrahim, also known as ‘Mohammed Oxygen’. 

According to the rights group, Ibrahim attempted to take his own life but was prevented in the last moments. 

The rights groups said Ibrahim had been denied visits from his family since February 2020 and funds sent to him were restricted. 

He may try again

The organisation has raised concerns that Ibrahim may attempt to take his own life again if he is not treated fairly and allowed access to his family and lawyers.

“ANHRI’s continued attempts haven’t yet succeeded in obtaining a permit from the Supreme State Security Prosecution to enable its lawyers to visit 'Oxygen', to determine the extent of his physical, mental and psychological well-being,” ANHRI said in a statement.

"This raises the bitter question, do they want to ruin Oxygen, drive him crazy or push him to committing suicide by cutting off contact with his family and lawyers?”

ANHRI has called on the Minister of Interior to hold those responsible accountable for the mistreatment of Ibrahim and immediately allow him prison visits. 

Deteriorating health 

Earlier this year, ANHRI reported that Ibrahim was suffering from deteriorating health as a result of ill-treatment and the denial of healthcare in prison. 

The report states that he was denied family visits for a year and prison authorities refused to deliver him food.

Ibrahim was first arrested in April 2018, after setting up a blog called ‘Oxygen Egypt’ where he reported on Egypt’s 2018 presidential election and government opposition figures. 

He was later released in July 2019 but arrested again in September on new charges. 

Ibrahim has since been held in pretrial detention and charged with joining a banned group, spreading false news, and misusing social media, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

According to the Geneva-based Committee for Justice, at least 731 people have died in custody due to denial of healthcare since Sisi’s coup in 2013, while at least 60,000 people have been imprisoned, according to Human Rights Watch.

Rights groups and medical professionals have called on US President Joe Biden's administration to urge Cairo to improve its prison conditions after a steep rise in inmate deaths.