Egypt: Popular blogger Esraa Fattah abducted and tortured

Human rights activists in Egypt say that a blogger and journalist who played a significant role in the 2011 uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak has been arrested.
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Another activist has tweeted that Ms. Fattah appeared before state prosecutors on Sunday and had said that she was “badly beaten and tortured”.

Ms. Fattah was the co-founder of a youth movement that played a big part in mobilizing the millions of protesters who forced former President Mubarak to stand down as president.

In the past three weeks, rights groups say that about 3,000 people, including activists, lawyers, and academics, have been detained in a major wave of arrests following rare protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The abduction, arbitrary detention and torture of human rights defender and journalist Esraa Abdelfattah is another indication that Egyptian authorities are stepping up brutality against human rights defenders in a bid to ‘terrorize’ critics and opponents, said Amnesty International today.

Esraa Abdelfattah was assaulted and abducted by security forces in plainclothes on 12 October. The next day she described to the Supreme State Security Prosecution how she was tortured by officers who beat her, attempted to strangle her and forced her to stand for nearly eight hours.

“Esraa Abdelfattah’s account of torture, coming just days after the prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah described a similar ordeal in custody, is an alarming indication that Egypt’s authorities are stepping up their use of brutal tactics to crackdown on human rights defenders,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.

“Esraa Abdelfattah has been targeted on spurious grounds and is being arbitrarily detained for her work defending human rights. She should be immediately and unconditionally released.”

“Egypt’s Public Prosecutor must end the abhorrent use of torture, a crime in the eyes of Egypt’s constitution and international human rights law, and open investigations into all torture allegations to hold those responsible accountable,” said Najia Bounaim.

“Esraa Abdelfattah’s appalling treatment sends a clear message to the international community that Egyptian authorities will stop at nothing to ‘terrorize’ perceived dissidents into silence. Egypt’s allies must take a strong stand and make clear to the authorities that persecution, torture and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders will not be tolerated.”

Background

The prosecutor ordered her detention for a further 15 days while she is investigated for “joining a terrorist group in achieving its goals”, “disseminating false news” and “misusing social media” as part of a case that also includes human rights defenders such as lawyer Mahienour el-Massry, politician Khalid Dawoud and political science professor Hassan Nefea. Like them, Esraa Abdelfattah was questioned about her previous political activism. The prosecutor did not produce any evidence against her, other than an NSA investigation case file that neither she nor her lawyers are able to examine.

Amnesty International believes these charges are completely unfounded and solely stem from the peaceful practice of the accused’s rights to freedom of expression, association and participation in public affairs.

Esraa Abdelfattah was among the first human rights defenders in Egypt to face a travel ban, when she was prevented to board a plane from Cairo airport on 13 January 2015 and was told by officials that there is a travel ban decision against her in relation to the NGO foreign funding case known as “case 173”.

She is one of a series of prominent human rights defenders who have been rounded up since an outbreak of protests on 20 September.

About the Author

Michael Onas
Africa - Online Founder & Senior Editor Africa - Online.Com was founded by Michael Onas in 1997, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in African news sector, with millions of readers around the world and followers on social media.