Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression

Letter to the National Council for Human Rights calling on it to appeal to the President of the Republic to repeal the sentence handed down to researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy

Dear Mr. Mohamed Fayek,
President of the National Council for Human Rights
69 Giza Street, next to the Saudi Embassy building, Egypt

Subject: Calling on the National Council for Human Rights to appeal to the President of the Republic to repeal the 4-year prison sentence handed down to researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy

The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) calls on the National Council for Human Rights to appeal to the President of the Republic to cancel the prison sentence handed down to researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy, in accordance with the legal powers granted to the President of the Republic under the state of emergency. AFTE warns of the deterioration of Santawy’s health condition, as he has been on hunger strike for 20 days in protest against the ruling issued against him.

The Supreme Emergency State Security Court sentenced Santawy to 4 years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of 500 pounds on charges of spreading false news from outside the country about the domestic situation, using a Facebook account. The case carried No. 774 of 2021 (Emergency State Security Misdemeanor), registered with No. 877 of 2021 at the Supreme State Security Prosecution.

Santawy, 30, a researcher and an anthropology master’s student at the Central European University (CEU) in Vienna, returned to Egypt to spend his holiday and visit his family. He began his university studies in anthropology and social sciences in September 2019. His academic work focuses on women’s rights, including reproductive rights in Egypt.

On 23 January 2021, seven policemen raided Santawy’s house, but he was not there. So, they asked his family to tell him to go to the Fifth Settlement police station. On 1 February, Santawy went to the police station, where he was detained and assaulted by slapping and punching in the face and chest.

Santawy has been held in pretrial detention since 6 February 2021, pending investigation into Case No. 65 of 2021, facing charges similar to those stated in the aforementioned case. The Public Prosecution ignored his lawyer’s request to refer Santawy to the Forensic Medicine Authority and investigate the physical assault he was subjected to.

The Supreme Emergency State Security Court issued its non-appealable ruling against Santawy only one month after questioning him in the aforementioned case. The State Security Prosecution interrogated him on 22 May 2021 and faced him with some technical reports claiming that he owns a Facebook account, but Santawy denied his connection to that account. During the interrogation session, Santawy’s lawyer requested that his client be referred to the forensic medicine to prove the physical assault that he was subjected to the previous day at the hands of the Tora Prison’s warden.

However, the prosecution ignored the request for the second time and did not even interrogate the prison warden. Santawy has been on hunger strike since 23 June.

Therefore, AFTE calls on the National Council for Human Rights to take on its responsibility for protecting human rights in Egypt, and to appeal to the President of the Republic to annul the sentence handed down to Santawy. AFTE also calls on the Council to appeal to the Public Prosecutor to release Santawy in the first case, which is still ongoing, in order to save his life, especially after his health has deteriorated, and to enable him to resume his study in Austria.

Best regards,
AFTE (an Egyptian human rights organization operating in accordance with the Egyptian constitution and law)

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