Egyptian politician Abu El Foutouh arbitrarily detained since 2018

Egyptian politician Abu El Foutouh arbitrarily detained since 2018

Abdelmoneim Abu El Foutouh, former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and leader of the opposition Strong Egypt party, was arrested on February 14, 2018, and accused of “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests” by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). In August 2021, he was further accused by the SSSP of “leading a terrorist group” and “broadcasting false news”, before being brought to trial before the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court in October. Abu El Foutouh is currently detained in Tora prison.

Abdelmoneim Abu El Foutouh is a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood and was a 2012 presidential candidate. He is the leader of the opposition Strong Egypt party, founded in 2011.

On February 14, 2018, ahead of the March 2018 presidential election, he was arrested by Egyptian security forces in his home, likely in connection with an interview he had given the month prior, in which he had indirectly criticised president Al Sisi.

The following day, he was interrogated by the SSSP in Case No. 440 of 2018 and accused of “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests”. He was then placed in solitary pre-trial detention in Tora “El Mazraa” prison.

During the first two years of his detention, his lawyers were able to visit him a few times. However, since 2020, they have not been authorised to visit him again. He is also not allowed to speak to his lawyers during his interrogations, nor to the judge during the detention renewal hearings. The SSSP failed to provide evidence to justify his continued pre-trial detention.

On February 18, 2020, he was due to be released following the expiry of the maximum term of two years he could be held in pre-trial detention. Instead, on February 1, 2020, he was added to another case (Case No. 1781 of 2019). The same day, he was interrogated by the SSSP and accused of similar charges as in the first case, i.e., of “leading a terrorist group and financing its members for the purpose of committing terrorist acts” and “spreading false news”.

On November 22, 2020, Abu El Foutouh was added to the terrorist list in Case No. 1781/2019 by the Cairo Criminal Court. This decision was upheld by the Court of Cassation on November 18, 2021.

On August 4, 2021, Abu El Foutouh was brought before the SSSP to be further interrogated in Case No. 440 of 2018. The prosecution accused of “leadership of a terrorist group, committing a crime of financing terrorist groups, possessing weapons and ammunition, promoting the ideas of a terrorist group, and deliberately broadcasting false news, statements, and rumours in the country and abroad.” Further, it presented videos of TV interviews of the complainant as evidence of “publishing false news”.

On August 31, 2021, the SSSP referred Abu El Foutouh to trial on Case No. 440 of 2018 for “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests”, in the same case as Mohammed Ali Ibrahim El Qassas. In October 2021, the SSSP referred Abu El Foutouh to trial before the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court in Case No. 1059 of 2021. According to his lawyers, Case No. 440 of 2018 was copied into Case No. 1059 of 2021, i.e., the new charges were taken from the original case (No. 440 of 2018) and sent to the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court under Case No. 1059 of 2021. The trial has begun on November 24, 2021.

Abu El Foutouh, who is suffering from a heart condition has been held in solitary pre-trial detention in a small cell in Tora “El Mazraa” Prison, known for its poor detention conditions, since February 15, 2018. According to his family, his health has deteriorated significantly due to the lack of medical care. After he reported suffering from several heart attacks in his cell, his family filed a petition to the public prosecution to allow him to receive treatment in a hospital. However, the prison administration denied the prosecution order to enable him of treatment. Over the weekend of July 24 and 25, 2021, he suffered a heart attack after having been barred from buying things at the prison’s kiosk and having been kept from getting an analgesic injection for spinal pain which he needs on an ongoing basis. He had tried to seek help, but the prison guards did not respond to his calls for assistance when he experienced the symptoms of a heart attack.

On December 2, 2021, MENA Rights Group submitted Abu El Foutouh’s case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, asking them to issue an Opinion as to the arbitrary nature of his detention. MENA Rights Group highlighted the fact that Abu El Foutouh was subjected to the practice of “rotation” (tadweer), which is used by the Egyptian authorities to circumvent pre-trial detention maximum periods and prolong the detention de facto indefinitely.

Timeline

December 2, 2021: MENA Rights Group requests the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) to issue an Opinion on Abu El Foutouh’s case, arguing that he is subjected to the practice of “rotation” and is therefore detained arbitrarily.
November 24, 2021: His trial begins.
November 18, 2021: The decision on the terrorism listing is upheld by the Court of Cassation.
October 2021: The SSSP refers Abu El Foutouh to trial before the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court in Case No. 1059 of 2021, for similar charges as Case No. 440/2018.
August 31, 2021: The SSSP refers Abu El Foutouh to trial for “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests” (Case No. 440 of 2018).
August 4, 2021: Abu El Foutouh is brought before the SSSP to be further interrogated in Case No. 440 of 2018 and accused of “leading a terrorist group” and “broadcasting false news”.
November 22, 2020: Abu El Foutouh is added to the terrorist list in Case No. 1781/2019 by the Cairo Criminal Court.
February 1, 2020: Abu El Foutouh is added to another case (Case No. 1781 of 2019), interrogated by the SSSP and accused of similar charges as in the first case.
February 15, 2018: Abu El Foutouh is interrogated by the SSSP and accused of “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests” (Case No. 440/2018). He is placed in solitary pre-trial detention in Tora “El Mazraa” prison.
February 14, 2018: Abu El Foutouh is arrested by Egyptian security forces in his home.

Related