Human Rights Behind Bars in Egypt

No more!

The Activists

Alaa Abdel Fattah

Alaa Abdel Fattah

in prison for 550 days

Alaa Abdel Fattah is an Egyptian activist born in 1981. As a Free Open Source Software developer and human rights activist, he has been at the forefront of the struggle for change in Egypt for many years, working relentlessly for the “bread, freedom and social justice” called for by the 2011 revolution. As a result, he has the unfortunate distinction of having been arrested not only by Mubarak but also all the different regimes that have ruled Egypt since the 2011 revolution.

Alaa is currently in prison in Egypt serving a five-year sentence after a trial that has been deemed unfair by international observers. Since being in prison for his current sentence, Alaa’s father, renowned human rights and constitutional lawyer, Ahmad Seif, has died at 60 and his younger sister, Sanaa, has been tried – also for protesting – and served 14 months of a two-year jail sentence.

Follow the campaign for his release on Facebook.

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Mahmoud Hussein

Mahmoud Hussein

in prison for 1001 days

Mahmoud Hussein was arrested from a microbus and picked out because of his anti-torture t-shirt and scarf. Mahmoud Hussein is accused of breaking the “protest law”, getting paid to protest, possessing Molotov cocktails, and belonging to a terrorist organisation.

He has been in pre-trial detention for more than 700 days. He was only 18 years old when he was arrested and is now at 19 years old facing an unknown fate in an Egyptian prison. No credible evidence has been presented to link him with violent actions or terrorist activities.

On 9 February 2016, the Giza Felony Court extended his detention for another 45 days. Mahmoud has already spent the maximum allowable time in pretrial detention (two years), a landmark he passed on 25 January.

On 24 March 2016, the court decided to release him after 790 days in pre-trial detention! 

While the court’s decision comes as a huge relief for Mahmoud Hussein and his family, it should not overshadow the outrageous injustice he has suffered.

See the Amnesty International campaign for the release of Mahmoud Hussein.

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Aya Hegazy

Aya Hegazy

in prison for 905 days

Aya Hegazy is an Egyptian-American activist who founded the organisation Belady with the objective of helping out street children. She was arrested in Cairo in May 2014 and charged with organising a group with the purposes of human trafficking, holding children for sexual exploitation and using them to disturb the peace in protests against security forces. Despite vehemently denying the charges, she was arrested with her husband (who was running the association with her) and two other colleagues.

The kids are being taught how to read and write, paint and learn self defense. Aya and her husband sleep on the floor in the conference room so that they can supervise the kids 24/7” her mother explained. Visit her Facebook page for more information and pictures of the children’s activities.

She also said that when Aya was interrogated by National Security, she was hit in the neck, fell to her knees and called names by the officer, who threatened her with the death sentence.

On 22 March, Aya’s trial was adjourned once more. The prosecution seems to have requested the wrong committee and not enough members showed up for the court to be able to operate under oath. The excuses are unacceptable and show the level of injustice that rules the courts of Egypt.

Her hearing on 21 May 2016 ended with a 6-month adjournment to 19 November. Her request for conditional release was denied and none of the international observers were permitted into the chamber.

Aya has now been in pre-trial detention for over 2 years.

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Ahmed Said

Ahmed Said

in prison for 338 days

Ahmed Said is an independent human rights defender, surgeon and poet who provided emergency medical care to citizens attacked by security forces during the 2011 Egyptian uprising. He was arrested by Egyptian security forces, along with 12 other peaceful protesters on 19 November 2015 in Cairo, as they commemorated the anniversary of the 2011 Mohammad Mahmoud Street protests, which were violently repressed by riot police from 19 November to 24 November 2011. Over 40 people were killed in that crackdown on a demonstration initially sparked by the dispersal of a sit-in protest of families of citizens injured or killed in the initial 18-day uprising.

At the silent, peaceful protest held on the 2015 anniversary of this event, there was a call for accountability of the perpetrators of human rights violations that took place four years earlier in Mohammad Mahmoud Street.

For this, Ahmed Said and his co-detainees were arrested, blindfolded and interrogated by security officials without the presence of a lawyer. Said is charged with protesting without a permit, “taking part in a gathering of more than five people and obstructing traffic”, as well as “possession of publications that contain information disturbing public order”.

On 13 December 2015 the Abdeen Misdemeanour Court in Cairo sentenced Ahmed Said and four other protesters to two years of imprisonment for participating in a protest without a permit on the fourth anniversary of the Mohamed Mahmoud incidents. This sentence violates his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, supposedly guaranteed by the 2014 Constitution and Egypt’s commitment to international human rights standards.

Ahmed Said is now held an isolated cell and banned from visits, meaning he is extremely vulnerable to violent assaults by the security officers.

Read his letter written from prison in December 2015 & follow the campaign for the release of Ahmed Said on Facebook.

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Ismail Al-Iskandarani

Ismail Al-Iskandarani

in prison for 328 days

Ismail Al-Iskandarani is a researcher and journalist who was detained upon his return to Egypt from Germany on 29 November 2015.

After having been held for more than ten hours at the airport, he was later moved to State Security Prosecution after the authorities searched his laptop and found articles he wrote on Sinai and other political issues. He was interrogated on charges of belonging to an illegal group, the Muslim Brotherhood, and spreading its ideas, in addition to intentionally disseminating false information

Mr Iskandarani is one of very few well-informed journalists and researchers to have published extensively on the political, security and human rights situation in the Sinai Peninsula. In that context, he has provided rare and credible analysis on the conditions endured by the civilian population of North Sinai, an area where a sweeping counter-insurgency operation is being implemented by the military.

Read more on his blog (in Arabic) about Sinai and this petition for his release.

Ismail al-Iskandarani is an associate researcher with the Arab Reform Initiative, and was a guest researcher at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.

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Taher Mokhtar

Taher Mokhtar

in prison for 282 days

Dr. Taher Mokhtar is a prominent health activist and a member of the Rights and Freedoms Committee at the Doctors’ Syndicate. He is a vocal campaigner for prisoners’ right to adequate medical treatment in places of detention in Egypt, and is also noted for defending workers’, minorities’ and refugees’ rights.

He was arrested with his two flatmates, Hossam el din Hammad and Ahmad Hassan, on Jan. 14, 2016 following a raid on their apartment in Downtown Cairo. They were interrogated by National Security for nine hours without a lawyer, then questioned by the Prosecution, which accused them of possession of publications that call for the overthrow of the regime.

Their detention was renewed on Jan. 17, 2016 for 15 days pending investigation.

The continued detention of Dr Taher Mokhtar is part of a campaign of intimidation and repression of human rights defenders, and of a crackdown on rights activists and pro-democracy movements, ostensibly to thwart the organization of protests on Jan. 25, 2016, the fifth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution.

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Mohamed Nagi Abdelmaksoud

Mohamed Nagi Abdelmaksoud

in prison for 180 days

26-year old Mohamed Nagi Abdelmaksoud began his professional career in 2009 as a journalist. In 2012 he began his engagement with civil society and human rights work as a member of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE).

Over the years Nagi worked on the launch of numerous solidarity and advocacy campaign, most prominent of which was his solidarity campaign with the students of the German University in Cairo (GUS), where he contributed to providing support to students expelled by the university because of their student activism, as well as documenting student activism at the university since the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Nagi also contributed to the production of numerous reports and research that addressed the issue of the students’ bylaws and statutes

In addition to his research work, Nagi coordinated the AFTE Students’ Monitor and participated in a large number of workshops and trainings for students, introducing them to student rights and freedoms, addressing student rights as a fundamental human right.

Through his work and contributions, he has become one of the most prominent Egyptian researchers in student rights and academic freedoms.

On 25 April 2016, Nagi was randomly arrested among others upon a call for peaceful protests against the agreement regarding the demarcation of maritime border between Egyptian authorities and their Saudi counterparts. He was subjected to interrogation by state security investigation and later accused of unlicensed demonstration.

On 14 May, Nagi and 21 others were sentenced to 5 years of hard labor for charges of participation in a demonstration giving thereby the harshest penalty according to the protest law. The verdict was not a legal decision but a political one, decided in advance with the aim of silencing any voice of dissent towards the ruling regime.

Researcher and human rights defender Mohamed Nagi and his colleagues were tried by an unconstitutional law and received cruel and politicized sentences. Those young people are in dire need of all your support and help before the verdict is consolidated in the court of appeal (the second and last degree).


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Malek Adly

Malek Adly

in prison for 170 days

Malek Adly is a prominent human rights lawyer and the director of Lawyers Network at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), which seeks to promote and mobilise social movements to spread the culture of human rights.

He is one the founders of the Front for Defending Egypt’s Protesters, a group comprising of 34 human rights organisations and several lawyers, which documents illegal practices carried out by state police forces against peaceful protesters.

Upon his arrest in Cairo’s Maadi district on 5 May 2016, Malek Adly was charged with attempting to overthrow the regime and transferred to Tora prison, Cairo where he is currently detained. A Cairo court renewed on 14 June his detention for 15 days.

There are reports that he is mistreated and beaten in detention, and denied family and lawyer visitation rights. The human rights defender was brought food, clothes and medication by his family as the prison was not providing them, but he was not allowed to receive them. His health is reported to be rapidly deteriorating.

On 28 August, he was released from prison after having spent nearly 4 months in solitary confinement. Although free, Malek Adly still faces charges and can be prosecuted.

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Ahmad Abdallah

Ahmad Abdallah

in prison for 180 days

Ahmed Abdallah is the co-founder and board director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF). He is a key person in the structure and governance of ECRF, which he helped becoming one of the major independent human rights organisations in Egypt through his dedication to human rights and peaceful change. Since the creation of ECRF, in 2013, he delivered training sessions on documentation and campaigning for human rights across many Egyptian governorates. Ahmed Abdallah is also the co-founder of the Start Foundation for Development and Anti-Corruption.

He was arrested on 25 April and his preventive detention has been extended once more for 45 days on 5 September.


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Mina Thabet

Mina Thabet

in prison for 156 days

Mina Thabet is the is Director of the Minority and Religious Groups Program at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) and a long term researcher on religious freedoms and minority rights in Egypt. He is also the co-founder of The Egyptian Coalition for minorities, and he was a consultant for the committee responsible for amending the 2013 Constitution. Mina Thabet co-founded also “Masperro Youth Union” and he acted as a representative of the group during the harsh repression on civil society in June 2013.

On 19 May 2016 security forces broke into his house  and arrested him; on 5 June his preventive detention was extended for 15 days.

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Imprisoned and harassed activists need your help and your voice!

Take action now and show your support by signing our petition on Change.

Take a picture of yourself or others holding a sign calling upon Egyptian authorities to free imprisoned activists and to stop harassing them, and send it to us at

Spread the word and share this campaign via Twitter, Facebook, emails, etc. You can use our Tweet template below

Support @EMHRN & take action to #HarassNoMore #HumanRights activists in #Egypt (add your picture to the tweet)

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Voices count! Help us in getting as many as possible!

About The Campaign



This campaign is a joint initiative of EuroMed Rights and the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) to gather public support for

  • the release of all Egyptian activists currently held in prison
  • the end of growing harassment from the Egyptian authorities

Egyptian activists are striving for human rights, democracy and other fundamental freedoms, yet have been targeted since 2011 for their role in defending and promoting civil, political and economic rights. Due to their prominent contribution in initiating change, many Egyptian activists are being targeted, threatened, prosecuted in political trials and sentenced to long prison terms.

In Egyptian President Sisi’s own words, “(…) there are many innocent people inside prisons, soon many of them will be released according to the available permissions” (declared on television on 22 February 2015)

This systematic crackdown on dissent must stop. All detained activists must be freed and this permanent harassment ended!

Take action and show your support and solidarity:

  • sign our petition 
  • take a picture of yourself or others holding a sign calling upon Egyptian authorities to free imprisoned activists and to stop harassing them, and send it to us at

Every voice counts! Help us in getting as many as possible!

"Putting peaceful activists behind bars may give the authorities a feeling of control, but it’s illusory – and it’s certainly not the road to building a democratic political system."

Ahdaf Soueif - Author, Egypt

Latest Updates

  • Trial of former corruption auditor Hisham Geniena adjourned

    During its hearing convened on 8 September, New Cairo Appellant Court postponed the reviewing of the appeal filed by counsellor Hisham Geniena over the prison sentence and the fine imposed on him to the hearing of 20 October. Hisham Geniena, former chair of the Central Auditing Organisation (CAO), is standing trial following charges brought against him by the Public Prosecution, which included the dissemination of false news and information related to corruption and waste of public funds.

  • Asset freeze decision against five human rights defenders

    On 17 September, the Cairo Criminal Court upheld the decision to freeze all movable and immovable assets of Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), and of Hossam Bahgat, founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), in addition to the three following human rights organisations and their directors: Bahey El-Din Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Mostafa al-Hassan, manager of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center & Abdel Hafiz Tayel, director of the Egyptian Center for Right to Education.
  • Imprisonment of lawyer Haytham Mohamdeen renewed for 45 days

    On 6 September, the Cairo Criminal Court ordered the imprisonment renewal of lawyer Haytham Mohamdeen for 45 days pending the investigations, charging Mohamdeen, along with others, of joining an outlawed group and inciting the protests of 25 April 2016 against the maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi-Arabia.

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