Egypt: Rassd News Network Journalist Arbitrarily Detained Since August 2013
On 22 July 2014, Alkarama sent an urgent appeal to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, copied to the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), to bring their attention to the case of Abdullah Ahmed Mohammed Ismail Alfakharany, a 24 years old student at the University of Cairo, Journalist and co-Founder of a news platform, Rassd News Network (RNN), and human rights activist. Arrested in August 2013 he has since then been detained in arbitrary detention and subjected to torture.
On 25 August 2013, Alfakharany visited his friend, Mohamed Sultan, who had been brutalised and shot during the peaceful demonstrations in Rabaa al Adawiya Square in Cairo. The purpose of his visit was both to provide first aid to his friend and to gather information about the previous day's clashes. Once inside the house, between 15 and 20 members of the State Security forces (Amn Al Dawla) raided the habitation looking for Sultan's father, who was absent at the time. After questioning and beating up Alfakharany and Sultan for half an hour, the Security forces transferred them to Maadi police station to record their identities, without any warrants. Alfakharany was transferred to the Al Basatin prison. Although Alfakharany was arrested on 25 August, the official date recorded for his arrest was the 26 August. During the first two days of detention, he was beaten up and subjected to degrading and humiliating treatments. On 27 August, he was finally allowed to see his lawyer and moved to Khalifa prison, where he was prevented to contact his family and put in solitary confinement for 24 hours.
After being transferred to the Wadi el-Natrun prison on 1 September, he was brought before a court and charged with producing false news defaming Egypt, without a proper trial. He was then sent back to prison, first to Al Basatin, and then to Tora, where he has been detained since 18 September 2013, and was only able to see his family only on 13 July 2014. Continuously postponing his trial to an unknown date, the judge justifies his decision on the alleged need to hear more testimonies, but only allowing the Prosecutor to call in witnesses, in violation of international fair trial rights.
Alkarama has reason to think that Abdullah Alfakharany's human rights activism, his political engagement and his leading role at RNN are the motives of his arbitrary detention. His background and his constancy in contesting his detention make him even more subject to retaliatory abuses, inhuman and degrading treatment in prison. The will expressed by the Egyptian authorities to postpone indefinitely his hearings, raise deep concerns, especially considering the fact that arbitrary detention and torture are amongst the most used practiced reserved to silence journalists and activists in Egypt.
As a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture, the Egyptian government should immediately release Abdullah Alfakharany and allow his family and lawyer to visit him without restrictions.
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