Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression

AFTE urges to stop the arbitrary practices against researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy and abolishes of his prison sentence

AFTE condemns the continuation of arbitrary practices against researcher Ahmed Samir Santawy, as the Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court refused to allow Santawy’s lawyer to review the merits of his sentence of 4 years imprisonment and a fine of 500 pounds. The administration of Tora Liman Prison also refused to allow Santawy to obtain textbooks sent to him by the university, as he is studying for his master’s degree. AFTE urges the President of the Republic to speed finalizing on the appeal submitted regarding the arbitrary sentence issued against Santawy, with to abolish of the sentence to release him at the earliest opportunity.

The Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court was accused Santawy of publishing false news from outside the country about the internal situation, on an account attributed to him on Facebook, and sentenced him to 4 years in prison and a fine of 500 pounds, on June 22, 2021. This sentence is final and cannot be appealed because it was issued by the Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court, which is an exceptional court to which the accused are referred under the application of the state of emergency. However, the President of the Republic can abolish the sentence, commute it, retrial, or ratify it.

At the end of last June, the Attorney General of the New Cairo Public Prosecutions informed Santawy’s attorney that he did not have the merits of the sentence issued against Santawy, and it was transferred to the State Security Affairs Office. Since then, the State Security Affairs Office has not responded to the attorney’s requests for the merits of the sentence. The Prime Minister, under his authority by the President of the Republic, forms the Office of State Security Affairs, which reviewing sentences issued in the Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court lawsuits, and expressing legal opinion on them, before sending them to the President of the Republic or his representative to make the final decision.

The Central European University (CEU) sent several textbooks to enable Santawy to complete his master’s studies in prison. Although Santawy’s family obtained a permit from the Supreme State Security Prosecution No. 4598 of 2021, on June 6, to enter these textbooks to him, the Tora Liman Prison administration still refused to allow the textbooks to enter until the issuance of this statement.

Ahmed Samir Santawy was arrested on February 1, 2021, and remained in enforced disappearance until his first appearance before the Supreme State Security Prosecution on February 6, 2021, pending Lawsuit No. 65 of 2021 Supreme State Security. On May 22, 2021, he was investigated regarding another Lawsuit No. 877 of 2021, Supreme State Security, and that lawsuit was referred to the Emergency State Security Misdemeanor Court, in which he was convicted.

Santawy was subjected to enforced disappearance and torture for nearly 5 days before being brought before the prosecution. When he was transferred to prison, he was subjected to solitary confinement, and suffered inhumane conditions of detention, which included depriving him of communication with his relatives and deprivation of clothes and personal supplies for a period of one month and eight days. Santawy informed the Supreme State Security Prosecution that he was subjected to physical assault by the deputy warden of Tora Liman Prison. None of these violations were investigated.

AFTE renews its urge to the President of the Republic to speed finalizing on the appeal submitted regarding the arbitrary sentence issued against Santawy, with to abolish of the sentence and release him at the earliest opportunity. It also urges the Ministry of Interior to allow the entry of Santawy‘s textbooks, in the execution of Articles 30 and 31 of the Prison Regulation Law No. 369 of 1956.

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