Posted on 13 October 2020
On 29 September 2019, human rights lawyer and the Director of Adalah Centre for Rights and Freedoms, Mohamed El-Baqer, was arrested at the State Security Prosecution premises when he was attending an investigation hearing with his client Mr Alaa Abdel Fattah.
Both Mr El-Baqer and his client were accused under the Criminal Case No. 1356 of 2019 State Security Prosecution on charges of "belonging to a terrorist group", "funding a terrorist group", "spreading false news undermining national security" and "using social media to commit publishing offenses".
Shortly after his detention, El-Baqer’s father passed away. El-Baqer was not allowed to visit his father in the hospital to say his final goodbye, however, he was permitted to bury him and attend the funeral.
The Cairo Criminal Court ordered the release of both Mr El-Baqer and Mr Abdel Fattah in the first session of viewing the case on 19 February 2020; however, this was appealed by the Public Prosecution and the decision was revoked the following day.
On 31 August 2020, the State Security Prosecution questioned El-Baqer in a new case No. 855 of 2020. This is the same case lawyer Mahienour El-Masry, journalist Israa Abdel Fattah, journalist Solafa Magdy and lawyer Amr Imam have recently been added to. The charges are “joining an illegal organisation” and “being a part of a criminal agreement with the purpose of committing a terrorist act from inside the prison”. These criminal offenses were allegedly committed during a time Mr El-Baqer was in pre-trial detention.
These new charges are a recent application of case recycling, the practice of adding political prisoners who are in pre-trial detention to a new case but with the same charges to prevent their release after exhausting the legal limit of two years of pre-trial detention. This effectively extends their potential detention period while not having to try them in front of a court that looks into the case.
On the anniversary of his arrest, the Cairo Criminal Court renewed Mr El-Baqer’s detention for 45 days.
During his detention, Mr El-Baqer has been denied exercise outside of his cell and access to books. Because of Covid-19 imposed restrictions, he was denied family visits for 6 months.
The Centre for Applied Human Rights urges the Egyptian government to release Mr El-Baqer and other human rights defenders immediately and unconditionally.