Beirut — The Egyptian authorities’ focusing on of households in Egypt of activists and human rights defenders residing overseas has been escalating, demonstrating a transparent sample of intimidation and harassment, 22 Egyptian, regional, and worldwide organizations stated at this time. Since August 2020, the authorities have focused the households of 4 critics who stay in the US, in addition to one in Turkey, one in Germany, and one in the UK.
These instances are amongst dozens reported lately. The authorities attempt to intimidate critics with illegal house raids, arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances, and extended detention of relations with out trial or fees.
“The Egyptian households of dissidents overseas have been more and more caught in President al-Sisi’s authorities net of oppression,” stated Joe Stork, deputy Center East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “President al-Sisi ought to instantly rein in his safety forces and finish these hostage-like arrests.”
On February 13, 2021, the authorities raided the houses of six members of the prolonged household of Mohamed Soltan, a US-based human rights advocate. Soltan, the director of the Freedom Initiative, an impartial human rights group, and two different sources with direct information of the arrests informed Human Rights Watch that safety brokers arrested two of his cousins, Mostafa Soltan and Khairi Soltan, at their houses within the Menoufiya governorate. The 2 sources additionally stated safety authorities arrested a 3rd relative of Soltan’s, Mahmoud Yousri al-Naggar.
Officers informed one other cousin to show himself in as soon as a forged on his damaged leg was eliminated. Three of Soltan’s different cousins whom officers needed to arrest weren’t at house throughout the raids; their households have been informed that the cousins have been needed by the Nationwide Safety Company. These detained have been interrogated primarily about Mohamed Soltan and his actions. On the night of February 17, authorities launched Mostafa and Khairi, following their detention and interrogation by Nationwide Safety officers, the 2 sources stated.
Safety brokers had beforehand arrested 5 of the six focused cousins in June 2020 and detained them with out trial till shortly earlier than Joe Biden gained the US presidential election in November. Soltan has been a outstanding goal of Egyptian authorities and pro-government media defamation campaigns due to his human rights work, most not too long ago due to his group’s assist for the institution of the Egypt Human Rights Caucus within the US Home of Representatives.
The authorities disappeared Soltan’s already-jailed father, Salah Soltan, on June 15, 2020, when officers escorted him from Wadi al-Natrun jail to an unknown vacation spot. Since that point, the authorities have refused to offer his household and attorneys details about his whereabouts. Soltan stated that Egyptian intelligence brokers in Washington, DC have harassed him with “bump-ins” on the native mall, at a Freedom Initiative’s Egypt advocacy occasion, which Human Rights Watch and the Undertaking on Center East Democracy co-sponsored in March 2019, and with threatening telephone calls, telling him that he ought to “watch out” for his father’s sake. Soltan stated he reported all incidents to the US authorities and his attorneys instantly.
Aly Hussein Mahdy, a College of Illinois at Chicago graduate scholar and video blogger with over 400,000 followers on Fb, was ridiculed by a pro-government TV outlet on January 17. Between January 28 and February 2, Nationwide Safety officers raided the houses of a number of of his relations in Alexandria and arrested his father, uncle, and cousin due to his movies, Mahdy informed Human Rights Watch.
“They raided the house at daybreak,” Mahdy stated in a Fb video on February 11. “They took my father from his spouse and my youthful siblings, terrifying them. They tousled the entire home and stole all the things they discovered.” He informed Human Rights Watch that his household has not been capable of be taught the whereabouts of the three relations arrested.
On January 27, Nationwide Safety officers carried out a daybreak raid on the household house of a US-based Egyptian researcher and journalist who requested to stay nameless. He informed Human Rights Watch that officers interrogated his father about his whereabouts and actions. The researcher had participated the day earlier than in a web-based public advocacy occasion from Washington, DC to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Egyptian rebellion of 2011.
Officers confiscated his father’s nationwide ID and telephone, he stated, and informed him to “come and gather them” from the Nationwide Safety headquarters in his governorate. Safety forces raided the house of the researcher’s household a second time on February 16 however nobody was within the house.
On August 22, 2020, safety forces arrested 9 relations of Sherif Mansour, the DC-based Center East and North Africa program coordinator on the Committee to Shield Journalists. Eight have been launched shortly after being interrogated about him and his father, Dr. Ahmed Sobhy Mansour, a retired US-based historical past professor. The elder Mansour has been a number one determine amongst Egypt’s persecuted Qur’anist Muslim minority, who imagine within the Quran however not the sayings attributed to the Prophet Mohamed (hadith).
The authorities forcibly disappeared Sherif Mansour’s cousin, Reda Abdelrahman, 45, for greater than 44 days earlier than taking him earlier than the State Safety Prosecution on October 6, 2020, the place prosecutors accused him of becoming a member of a terrorist group. They’ve since renewed his pretrial detention, most not too long ago on February 16, 2021. Mansour informed Human Rights Watch that attorneys have been solely allowed to learn the prosecution’s allegations however couldn’t receive a replica. The prosecutors claimed that Mansour and his father have been members of the identical unnamed terrorist group.
Abdelrahman was beforehand arrested in 2008 and once more in 2015 for being a member of the Qur’anist minority.
At daybreak on February 10, 2021, eight Nationwide Safety officers in Luxor, in southern Egypt, raided the house of the household of Taqadum al-Khatib, a Berlin-based tutorial and political activist. The officers aggressively searched the house and interrogated his aged dad and mom about his actions, then seized his father’s telephone and several other paperwork from the home, al-Khatib informed Human Rights Watch.
On August 22, 2020, Egyptian Nationwide Safety officers arrested two brothers of Mona el-Shazly, a Birmingham, UK-based political activist who previously revealed Fb movies criticizing the federal government, she stated in an e-mail to Human Rights Watch. Nationwide Safety officers arrested the 2 brothers, Eid, 31, and Hassan, 34, at their household house in Alexandria, and forcibly disappeared them for 3 days earlier than they appeared on August 25 earlier than the State Safety Prosecution. Authorities then held Eid and Hassan in an undisclosed location for one more month earlier than transferring them to Tora Jail, el-Shazly stated. They’ve been held with out trial since then.
In mid-December 2020, safety forces arrested 5 nephews of the Turkey-based opposition TV presenter Hisham Abdallah from Marsa Matrouh and Kafer al-Sheikh governorates. They have been lacking for 2 days. On December 23, the State Safety Prosecution ordered all 5 detained pending an investigation on accusations of becoming a member of and financing a terrorist group.
Amongst these family members who’ve been detained for years in acts of reprisal towards their family members overseas are Ola al-Qaradawi and her husband, Hosam Khalaf. Al-Qaradawi, a US resident, is the daughter of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a outstanding Qatar-based preacher with historic ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. The authorities have imprisoned the couple with out trial since June 2017 for no obvious motive aside from their relation to Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
In October 2019, the authorities arrested Amr Abu Khalil, a psychiatrist who’s the brother of Haytham Abu Khalil, an anchor on the Turkey-based opposition Al-Sharq TV, after he escalated his public criticism of President Abdelfattah al-Sisi and his household. In September 2020, Amr Abu Khalil died in jail after 11 months in detention with out trial.
“The federal government has been utilizing households as enjoying playing cards in its abusive marketing campaign to power Egyptian dissidents overseas to be silent,” Stork stated. The Egyptian authorities usually are not profitable dissidents’ silence however are solely drawing consideration to their human rights violations with this sample of taking relations hostage.”
Andalus Institute for Tolerance and anti-Violence Research
Committee for Justice (CFJ)
Cairo Institute for Human Rights Research
Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN)
El Nadeem Middle for Rehabilitation of Violence and Torture Victims
Entrance Line Defenders
Human Rights First
Human Rights Watch
Worldwide Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Sinai Basis for Human Rights (SFHR)
The Worldwide Fee of Jurists (ICJ)
The Egyptian Fee for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF)
The Freedom Initiative
The Egyptian Entrance for Human Rights (EFHR)
The Egyptian Human Rights Discussion board (EHRF)
The Undertaking on Center East Democracy (POMED)
The World Motion for Democracy
MENA Rights Group
Open Society Foundations
World Organisation In opposition to Torture (OMCT)