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Day of the Imprisoned Writer 2018 - Take Action for Wael Abbas

Tuesday 13 November 2018 - 10:32am

Wael Abbas

TAKE ACTION FOR WAEL ABBAS 

PEN International strongly condemns the continued arbitrary detention of Wael Abbas, a prominent Egyptian writer and political activist, who is widely known for documenting abuses by the Egyptian security forces. In May 2018, his house was raided by armed police and he was blindfolded and arrested. He is facing charges of “joining a terrorist group in realizing its objectives”, “spreading false news” and “using the internet to propagate a terrorist group’s ideology”. Since his arrest on 24 May 2018, Abbas’s pre-trial detention has been regularly extended by the Egyptian judiciary. More recently on 16 October 2018, the Cairo Criminal Court has renewed his detention for a further 45 days for investigation.

PEN International believes that the charges against Abbas are related to his peaceful activism and writings critical of the Egyptian government. PEN International calls for his immediate and unconditional release and for all charges against him to be dropped. PEN also calls on the Egyptian authorities to free all those held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including journalistic or human rights work.

Take Action: Share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media using the hashtag #ImprisonedWriter

Send appeals to the Egyptian authorities:

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of blogger and activist, Wael Abbas;
  • Urging them to drop all charges against Abbas and stop persecuting him for his peaceful free expression work;
  • Urging them to ensure that the right to freedom of expression in Egypt is fully respected in law and practice in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a state party.

Please send appeals to:

President
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi,
Office of the President,
Al-Ittihadia Palace,
Cairo,
Arab Republic of Egypt,
Fax: +202 2 391 1441
Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg Moh_moussa@op.gov.eg
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice
Mohamed Hossam Abdel Rahim
Ministry of Justice,
Lazoghly Sq.,
Fax: +202 2 795 8103
Email: mjustice@moj.gov.eg
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Interior
Mohamed Tawfiq,
Ministry of Interior,
Fifth Settelment, New Cairo,
Egypt
Fax: +202 2794 5529
Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg
Salutation: Dear Minister

Please send your letters via the Embassy of the Egypt in your country. Addresses may be found here.

Solidarity Consider adopting Wael Abbas as an Honorary Member of your Centre. Details of how to campaign for honorary members may be found in the Writers in Prison Committee Handbook, available here.

Background

Publications and activism by Wael Abbas

Wael Abbas, born 14 November 1974, is a well-known blogger and pro-democracy activist. In his blogcreated in 2004, Abbas posted news related to human rights violations, including corruption and police brutality. In particular, he posted a video in 2006 showing police torture of an individual, which led to the imprisonment of a police officer, Captain Islam Nabih. Abbas is the author of many books, including Abdel Nasser and minorities and a collection of Articles 2006 – 2013 which ask the American administration to stop their support of former president Hosni Mubarak, and more recently “another person” which was published in 2018. He is the recipient of the 2007 Knight International Award for Journalistic Excellence, and Human Rights Watch's Hellman/Hammett Award 2006. He also won the Egyptians Against Corruption Award 2005/2006. In 2007 Abbas was named Middle East Person of the Year by CNN and was considered one of the Most Influential People of 2006 by the BBC.

Arrest and charges

Due to his peaceful activities, Abbas has been harassed and subjected to violations for several years. His social media accounts were regularly suspended. Abbas' arrest comes in the context of a new crackdown on political opponents and activists in Egypt. He has been arbitrarily detained since his arrest in May 2018, when several armed agents from the Egyptian security service raided his home, blind-folded him and took him to an undisclosed location. During the raid, the agents also confiscated his electronic devices and other personal belongings, including cameras, hard disks, mobile phones, laptops and books. On 28 May 2018, Abbas was questioned for six hours by Egypt’s Supreme Security Prosecution which has accused him of “joining a terrorist group in realizing its objectives”, “spreading false news” and “using internet to propagate a terrorist group’s ideology”. According to reports, Abbas’s file has been included in the judicial case No. 621 of 2018 as well as case No. 441 of 2018 which also includes journalists and activists such as Mostafa al-Asar, Hassan al-Banna and Ezzat Ghoneim who is a lawyer and the head of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms. Abbas remains detained at Tora prison pending the investigation. On 25 September 2018, the the Cairo Criminal Court refused Abbas’ appeal against regular renewal of his detention.

PEN’s freedom of expression work on Egypt

The situation for freedom of expression and opinion in Egypt has deteriorated sharply since President al-Sisi came to power in 2014. Many journalists and writers have been arrested or forced to flee the country. PEN has been monitoring many cases of writers and journalists who have been jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly, including during journalistic or human rights work.

PEN passed a Resolution on Egypt at its 82nd World Congress in 2016 and another Resolution was adopted at its 84th Congress in 2018. In both, PEN noted with concern the rise in the number of writers and journalists who have been detained or imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association and assembly (click here to read more about PEN International’s work on Egypt).

Please let us know about your activities and send us a report about them by 15 December 2018 so that we can share them with other Centres. This is really important as it will enable us to monitor the impact of PEN’s campaigning on Wael Abbas’ case.

For any further information, please contact Nael Georges, PEN International, Koops Mill Mews, 162-164 Abbey Street, London SE1 2AN | Tel: +44 (0) 207 405 0338 | Email: nael.Georges@pen-international.org