Fact Sheet: Prisoner of Conscience Mohamed Oxygen

Publish Date : Monday, 10 June, 2024
Last Update : Thursday, 13 June, 2024

Prepared by: Rahma Samy, Researcher at the Monitoring and Documentation Unit at AFTE


Blogger and journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan, aka Mohamed Oxygen, who has been serving a four-year prison sentence issued by the Emergency State Security Court in Case No. 1228 of 2021 (Emergency State Security Misdemeanor – Fifth Settlement), has been subjected to continuous abuse since his arrest in 2018. He has gone on hunger strike since 13 April 2024 in protest against the ill-treatment and abuse he has been subjected to, in addition to being detained in an inhumane place infested with insects. This timeline traces the violations that Oxygen has been facing in connection with his journalistic work.

First arrest and first enforced disappearance

  • At 3 a.m. on 6 April 2018, a National Security police force arrested Oxygen, the founder of “Egypt Oxygen” blog, from his home in the Basateen neighbourhood in Cairo. He was taken to an unknown location and denied access to his family and lawyer. 
  • On 17 April 2018, he appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in the Fifth Settlement, in Case No. 621 of 2018 (Supreme State Security Prosecution). He faced charges of spreading false news and joining a terrorist group. 
  • During his detention, Oxygen was subjected to torture at the National Security headquarters in Abbasiya, which he proved during the interrogation sessions. He remained in pretrial detention – in solitary confinement most of the time – for nearly 15 months.
  • In May 2018, Oxygen went on hunger strike in protest against intransigence and ill-treatment, where he was denied visits and subjected to torture.
  • On 22 July 2019, the Criminal Court decided to replace Oxygen’s pretrial detention with a precautionary measure, according to which he had to go to the Basateen Police Station twice a week.


Oxygen forcibly disappeared again

  • While implementing the precautionary measure at the Basateen Police Station on 21 September 2019, Oxygen informed the director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, lawyer Gamal Eid, over the phone that a National Security police officer came to take him to the National Security headquarters in Maadi, then his mobile phone was switched off. Although three telegraphs were sent to the Public Prosecutor, the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Justice, no investigation was conducted in this regard. Oxygen remained under enforced disappearance for nearly 18 days.

The arrest of Oxygen came as part of a fierce security campaign launched by the security services in Egypt against the backdrop of what was known at the time as the “20 September 2019 protests” called for by Egyptian self-exiled businessman Mohamed Ali. Oxygen was among the journalists who covered those protests in more than one governorate. Other journalists, activists, lawyers and human rights defenders were also arrested during the campaign.


Appearing at the Supreme State Security Prosecution

  • Oxygen appeared before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on 8 October 2019, in connection with a new case No. 1356 of 2019 (Supreme State Security Prosecution), in which he faced the same charges he faced in the previous case. He remained in pretrial detention for 14 months.


  • Replacing detention with precautionary measures without implementing the decision
  • On 3 November 2020, the Criminal Court issued a decision replacing Oxygen’s pretrial detention with a precautionary measure.
  • In 2020, the Ministry of Interior refused to implement the release decision, thus keeping Oxygen in detention in violation of the law.


Enforced disappearance and recycling into other cases for the third time

  • On 10 November 2020, Oxygen’s lawyers were surprised that he was referred to the Supreme State Security Prosecution for the third time, in Case No. 855 of 2020 (Supreme State Security Prosecution). The investigation into this case was carried out while Oxygen was in his cell in the maximum security Prison 2 (aka Al-Aqrab), in what was known as “recycling from inside the prison”. The case also involved rights lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, and they faced charges of spreading false news that would harm the country.


Oxygen denied visitation without reasons

  • Oxygen has been permanently banned from visitation since February 2020, without the prison administration giving reasons or responding to his family and lawyer’s requests. The prison administration also rejected a request by Oxygen’s family to deposit a sum of money in his account in the prison’s canteen. It also denied him access to medicines until 15 July 2020, when his family had managed to bring him food for the first time since February 2020, without seeing him at the time.


Oxygen has been subjected to various forms of abuse inside his prison, all of them represented grave violations of the prisoners’ rights guaranteed by the Regulation of Prisons Law and its executive regulations, as well as the international treaties binding on Egypt in the field of protecting the prisoners’ rights.

Oxygen was subjected to abuse inside his prison (cell 3/2-B), whether by denying him visits, depriving him – unlike other prisoners – of fresh meals, inspecting his cell constantly, and depriving him of exercise. This caused Oxygen severe depression and led him to abstain from speaking for nearly a month and a half in 2022. So, he became completely isolated inside his cell despite the presence of two other inmates with him, according to a former detainee who refused to be named for security reasons.


Suicide attempt

  • In August 2021, Oxygen attempted to commit suicide using medical drugs inside his cell, but he was saved at the last moment. This came after his mental health deteriorated sharply shortly after his second arrest. His lawyers suggested that this deterioration came after he was subjected to violations that made him lose the desire to live inside the prison. In August 2021, the prison administration refused to implement the prosecution’s decision to allow lawyers from the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information to visit Oxygen after he attempted suicide. Rather, the prison administration seized the visit permit and refused to return it to the lawyers.



Recycling for the third time and unfair trial

  • In October 2021, the prison administration informed Oxygen and both activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, who were involved in the same case, that they would be referred to the Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court in the Fifth Settlement for trial in a new case that was copied from Case No. 1356 of 2019 (Felonies), according to the defence panel.
  • On 20 December 2021, the Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court sentenced Oxygen to four years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of 200,000 pounds, in Case No. 1228 of 2021 (Emergency State Security). The verdict was final and not subject to appeal, as the Emergency State Security Court is one of the exceptional judicial institutions whose rulings cannot be appealed under the Emergency Law. Oxygen is still held in pretrial detention in Case No. 855 of 2020 (Supreme State Security).
  • Oxygen’s trial was hasty and unjustified. It took only two months that saw only two procedural sessions, a session for pleadings, and a final session to announce the verdict. Although the rulings issued by the Emergency Supreme State Security Court are final and cannot be appealed, the President of the Republic has the right to annul or amend them, or order a retrial. The speed of the trial was one of the violations of the right to a fair trial. Over the course of three sessions, the court did not listen to the defendant’s lawyer or respond to his requests. It also refused to allow the detainees to consult with their lawyers, and prevented lawyers from obtaining a photocopy of the case file. Moreover, none of the three defendants was faced with any piece of evidence proving the accusations levelled against them. The court did not also allow international observers to attend the sessions, despite the fact that they were public sessions in accordance with the constitution.


The death of Oxygen’s mother and his refusal to participate in the funeral

  • In February 2022, Oxygen’s mother died. Lawyers, writers and bloggers launched the hashtag “Allow Oxygen to bury his mother”, demanding that he be allowed to bid farewell to his mother and receive condolences, but he refused to leave the prison. This reflected the level of extreme despair that Oxygen reached due to the isolation imposed on him, the death of his mother, and his suicide attempt.


Petition for presidential pardon

  • In November 2022, Oxygen’s brother submitted a petition to the President of the Republic through AFTE – which took over the legal defence for Oxygen – requesting a presidential pardon for his brother in Case No. 1228 of 2021, in which activist Alaa Abdel Fatah and human rights lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer were also convicted. However, Oxygen’s brother received no response. Al-Baqer was released in July 2023.


Beating in Badr 1 Prison

  • On 17 April 2023, Oxygen was beaten in Badr 1 Prison along with other political prisoners at the hands of the prison warden. Several human rights organizations called for a prompt and independent official investigation into the incident.


Solitary confinement for more than 10 months

  • Oxygen has been held in solitary confinement in Badr Prison in Cairo since May 2023. This came after he intervened to protect one of his cellmates who was assaulted by a prison guard.
  • On 13 April 2024, Oxygen went on hunger strike for the second time since his imprisonment in protest against the conditions of his prolonged detention, the ill-treatment and abuse he was subjected to, and his detention in an inhumane place infested with insects. Bites of insects appeared on all his body, and his health condition deteriorated. He has been held in solitary confinement since May, denied access to medicines and belongings most of the time, and forced to attend visits in the presence of a National Security officer, according to his family.
  • On 2 May, Oxygen informed his family that he had ended his hunger strike. The family said in a Facebook post that his health and psychological condition were poor during the visit.

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