Egypt: Recent arbitrary practices show no intent to improve human rights situation or release political prisoners

In Egypt /Road Map Program, Statements and Position Papers by CIHRS

The undersigned organizations condemn the Egyptian authorities’ targeting of the family of journalist and human rights defender Ahmed Gamal Ziada, the arrest of his 58-year-old father Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada, and the prosecution’s order to detain him for 15 days. We demand the immediate release of Gamal Abdelhamid Ziada and call on the authorities to stop persecuting the families of dissident journalists and rights defenders who live abroad.

The targeting of Ahmed Gamal Ziada’s family reflects the Egyptian authorities’ increasingly common practice of harassment, including through the repeated and arbitrary detainment of dissidents’ family members. These incidents demonstrate that the Egyptian government has no sincere intention of improving the country’s human right situation or releasing political prisoners, underscoring the futility of the National Dialogue initiated last May. We hold the Egyptian authorities fully responsible for the health and safety of Gamal Ziada, who suffers from high blood pressure and a thyroid disorder among other ailments, particularly in light of  dismal conditions in Egyptian prisons, as reported by rights groups.

On 22 August, plainclothes security personnel arrested Gamal Ziada near his home in Nahia, located in the Giza governorate, along with several other people. While most of those arrested were later released, Ziada was detained for interrogation at the National Security headquarters in Zakia, also located in Giza, without the knowledge of his family or lawyers. At the time, his family sent telegrams to the public prosecutor, the interior minister, and the president to document Ziada’s arbitrary arrest, demand his release, and affirm his lack of involvement in any political activity. The next afternoon, Ziada appeared for questioning before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in connection with Case 2064 of 2023, where he was charged with joining a subversive group, abusing social media, and spreading false news. The prosecution ordered his detention for fifteen days pending investigation and moved him to the Tenth of Ramadan Prison. According to his family, he was questioned by National Security about the activities of his journalist son, Ahmed Gamal Ziada, who currently resides abroad.

The Egyptian authorities have been known to retaliate against the families of dissident rights defenders and journalists residing abroad. The family of rights defender Mohamed Soltan, the founder of the Freedom Initiative, was targeted in the past because of his rights advocacy, and in May, the authorities targeted relatives of Ahmed al-Tantawi after he announced his candidacy for president. The Egyptian authorities have harassed others as a way to pressure and intimidate dissidents abroad and compel them to stop advocating for democracy and human rights in Egypt.

The arrest of Ziada also comes amid a spate of  arbitrary measures taken in recent days, including the detention of journalist and publisher Hisham Kassem, the chair of the board of trustees of the Free Current, and detainment of 59- year- old Alaa al-Din Saad al-Adly, the father of political activist Fajr al-Adly, at Cairo Airport upon his arrival on 18 August; he was charged  with joining an illegal group and spreading false news in Case 716 of 2023. The fact-checking platform Matsda2sh was also targeted by the Egyptian authorities following its exposé on the Zambia plane incident. Journalist Karim Asaad, who works with the platform, was arrested and disappeared after a raid on his home; he was released 48 hours later.

Ahmed Gamal Ziada, a journalist and member of the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate, currently resides in Brussels, Belgium, where has taken part in numerous campaigns championing human rights. He recently launched a website, Zawia3, for investigative journalism and analysis. He was arrested several times in Egypt as a result of his journalism, compelling him to leave the country.


Signatory organizations

  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  • Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  • Nadeem Center
  • The Freedom Initiative
  • Committee for Justice
  • Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  • Sinai Foundation for Human Rights

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