May 24, 2017
The Egyptian authorities have intensified their crackdown on opposition activists ahead of the upcoming 2018 presidential elections, arresting at least 36 people in 17 cities from five opposition parties and political youth groups, said Amnesty International today. Many were arrested in connection with comments they posted online about the elections.
Among who have faced arrest is the former presidential candidate and prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali who was detained yesterday and released today on bail. He will now face trial on Monday for “violating public morals”. If convicted he faces a year in prison or a fine. He would also be barred from running for the presidency. In February he acknowledged that he was considering a renewed presidential bid for 2018 elections.
“The presidential elections are not scheduled to take place until 2018, yet the Egyptian authorities seem intent on pre-emptively crushing any potential rivals to maintain their grip on power,” said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s campaigns director for North Africa.
“Khaled Ali’s arrest and prosecution was clearly politically motivated. The Egyptian authorities must drop the absurd charge he is facing and end the smear campaign against him.”
Khaled Ali is the founder of Aish we Horreiya (Bread and Freedom) party whose members are among those targeted by the wave of arrests.
He was first summoned by the prosecutor in Giza for questioning on 23 May. Negad al Borei, his lawyer, who attended the interrogation session, told Amnesty International that he was charged with making physical gestures “that violate public morals”. The charge relates to a photo showing Khalid Ali celebrating with his supporters outside the High Administrative Court, after winning a prominent case to reverse a government decision to hand over control of two islands in the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.