Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) underscores its deep concern over the continuous use of families of dissidents residing abroad as hostages by the Egyptian regime. This reprehensible tactic is employed to subject them to abuse and manipulation, serving as a grim manifestation of the regime’s policy of collective punishment.
AOHR UK points out that these actions consistently target activists and dissidents, exerting undue pressure on them to halt their criticism and suppress their efforts to shed light on ongoing human rights violations.
AOHR UK highlights that this troubling policy has recently been glaringly evident in a series of arrests conducted by Egyptian security forces over the past week. These arrests have notably impacted the fathers of two dissidents and activists living abroad: Fajr Al-Adly and journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada.
AOHR UK wishes to draw attention to the arrest of Alaa El-Din Saad Mohamed Al-Adly, the father of Egyptian activist Fajr Al-Adly, who is a resident in Germany. On August 18, 2023, upon his arrival at Cairo Airport from Germany, Mr. Al-Adly was apprehended, despite holding a German passport. His connection to his daughter, who had previously criticized Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi during his visit to Germany years ago, marked him as a target of Egyptian authorities seeking retribution.
AOHR UK reports that airport security personnel detained Mr. Al-Adly, subsequently transferring him to National Security for interrogation, all conducted without the presence of legal counsel. On August 19, he was presented before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, where he was charged with groundless accusations, including the dissemination of false information and affiliation with a terrorist group. These are accusations consistently wielded by the Egyptian regime against its dissidents and their families, often devoid of any factual basis.
It is of grave concern that the prosecution ordered Mr. Al-Adly’s detention for 15 days pending investigations, denying him the opportunity to communicate with his family or legal counsel. He was taken to an undisclosed location, intensifying the distress of his family, who have made repeated appeals to Egyptian authorities to ascertain his whereabouts, yet without success.
In a related context, AOHR UK discloses that Egyptian security forces also arrested the father of Egyptian journalist and dissident Ahmed Gamal Ziada. He, too, was presented before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, facing identical charges as Mr. Al-Adly. A 15-day detention order was issued against him pending investigations.
It is of significant concern that Mr. Ziada’s defence team has been denied access to the investigation files, preventing them from challenging the accusations or ascertaining the nature of the alleged news he is accused of spreading, or identifying the group he is alleged to have joined. Furthermore, their request for his release, considering his advanced age and deteriorating health, was denied.
AOHR UK emphasizes that the primary objective of the Egyptian regime in targeting dissidents abroad or arresting them upon their return is to exact revenge on these individuals due to their activism or criticism of the authorities. These actions flagrantly violate international laws and conventions that explicitly prohibit collective punishment in all its forms.
Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK (AOHR UK) urgently calls upon the international community to take a decisive stance to halt the practices of the Egyptian regime and its systematic targeting of political dissidents and their families, both domestically and abroad.
AOHR UK added that these actions constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian standards, and the regime continues to employ them, even a decade after Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi came to power. These incidents are merely a glimpse into the ongoing campaign waged by the Egyptian regime against its critics, regardless of their locations or affiliations.