Egypt: Release jailed journalist and disappeared blogger

Alerts, Egypt, Shrinking Space for Civil Society

EuroMed Rights strongly condemns the sentencing on Tuesday of Egyptian freelancer Ismail Alexandrani and the arrest yesterday morning of blogger and activist Wael Abbas. We call for their immediate release.

Ismail Al-Iskandarani, a researcher and journalist, was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a military court in Cairo for belonging to an illegal group and disseminating false information. The journalist has been held in custody since November 2015 and has spent nearly 2.5 years in pre-trial detention.

Prominent blogger Wael Abbas, who reported on human rights violations including torture, disappeared at 4 am this Wednesday morning from his home in Cairo. His computer and mobile phones were seized during the arrest and he was also blindfolded. He reported his own arrest on Facebook and remains incommunicado at the time of writing. EuroMed Rights is asking for his whereabouts to be disclosed urgently.

Commenting on the issue, EuroMed Rights President, Michel Tubiana, says:

Egypt is the world’s third largest jailer of journalists with at least 20 reporters behind bars. It is high time Egyptian authorities release them and drop all charges against them.

Ismail Al-Iskandarani’s sentence and Wael Abbas’ arrest mark another step in the ongoing muzzling of whistle-blowers in Egypt. Indeed, journalists, bloggers, lawyers, human rights defenders who do not adhere to the official line of the regime are being silenced for their work. The ongoing crackdown on dissenting voices should be stopped.

EuroMed Rights stresses that Egypt violates its international obligations of due process and fair trials. The country should reinforce its judiciary’s independence and impartiality and perform its duties in accordance with international standards of fair trial.

Background information
Ismail Al-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. The journalist has been reporting as well on Islamist groups.