Egyptian politician El Qassas arbitrarily detained since 2018

Egyptian politician El Qassas arbitrarily detained since 2018

Mohammed Ali Ibrahim El Qassas, the deputy head of the Strong Egypt opposition party, was arrested on February 8, 2018, and accused of “joining a terrorist group”, “spreading false news”, and “funding a terrorist group” by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (SSSP). In August 2021, he was accused again by the SSSP of “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests”, before being brought to trial before the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court in October. El Qassas is currently held in the Maximum Security Tora prison.

Mohammed Ali Ibrahim El Qassas is an Egyptian activist and the deputy head of the Strong Egypt opposition party.

On February 8, 2018, El Qassas was arrested and forcibly disappeared for two days until he appeared before the SSSP on February 10, 2018. He was interrogated in Case No. 977 of 2017 (known as the “Mekamleen 2 Case”, which included several journalists and politicians) and accused of “joining a terrorist group”, “spreading false news”, and “funding a terrorist group”. He remained in solitary pre-trial detention in the Maximum Security Tora Prison for the whole duration of his detention. Visits from his family and his lawyer were often prohibited for long periods. During the detention renewal hearings, El Qassas was not allowed to talk to his lawyers privately, and was only able to see them through a glass barrier. The SSSP also failed to provide evidence to justify his placement in pre-trial detention.

On December 9, 2019, a court ordered El Qassas’ release with a condition of residence. However, he was never released, as State Security blocked the release order, and on December 15, 2019, he was taken to SSSP to be questioned as part of a new case (Case No. 1781 of 2019), and accused of “joining a terrorist group”, “spreading false news”, and “funding a terrorist group” – the very same accusations as in the first case.

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

On June 27, 2021, El Qassas was brought before the SSSP to be interrogated in a third case (Case No. 440 of 2018). In relation to this latter case, on August 31, 2021, the SSSP referred El Qassas to trial before the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court for “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests”, in the same case as Abdelmoneim Abu El Foutouh.

In October 2021, the SSSP referred El Qassas 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 and sent to the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court. The trial has begun on November 24, 2021.

On December 2, 2021, MENA Rights Group submitted El Qassas’ 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 El Qassas 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 El Qassas’ 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 El Qassas to trial before the Emergency State Security Misdemeanour Court in Case 1059/2021, for similar charges as Case No. 440/2018.
August 31, 2021: The SSSP refers El Qassas to trial for “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news to harm national interests” (Case No. 440/2018).
June 27, 2021: El Qassas is brought before the SSSP to be interrogated in a third case (Case No. 440/2018).
November 22, 2020: El Qassas is added to the terrorist list in Case No. 1781/2019 by the Cairo Criminal Court.
December 15, 2019: El Qassas is taken to SSSP to be questioned as part of a new case (Case No. 1781/2019), and accused of “joining a terrorist group”, “spreading false news”, and “funding a terrorist group”.
December 9, 2019: A court orders El Qassas’ release with a condition of residence, but the SSSP blocks the release order.
February 10, 2018: El Qassas appears before the SSSP and accused in the “Mekamleen 2 Case” (Case No. 977/2017) of “joining a terrorist group”, “spreading false news”, and “funding a terrorist group”.
February 8, 2018: El Qassas is arrested and forcibly disappeared for two days.

Related