Hisham Kassem continues hunger strike for the fourteenth day protesting against the arbitrary practices of the Egyptian authorities towards him

The undersigned organisations hold the Egyptian authorities accountable for ensuring Mr. Kassem's safety and well-being. He began his hunger strike on August 22, 2023, after being transferred to the Tenth of Ramadan Prison on unfounded charges fabricated by Egyptian security personnel. We strongly urge the immediate release of Mr. Kassem and an end to the intimidation and persecution of political opponents and human rights defenders.

Kassem had notified his family and lawyer on September 4, 2023, that he began a hunger strike on August 22, 2023, in protest against the repressive practices of the Egyptian authorities towards him, which aim to harass and morally assassinate him since the establishment of the Free Current movement in early June. Mr. Hisham Qasim has been held in pretrial detention since August 20, in a case falsely accusing him of defamation, verbal assault, and insult against public officials. His first trial session was held on September 2, 2023, and was adjourned to the following Saturday, September 9, 2023.

Mr. Hisham Kassem has faced a smear campaign on state-affiliated channels due to his harsh criticisms of the Egyptian government's policies. This campaign reached its peak when three officers from the Sayeda Zeinab Police Department falsely accused Mr. Hisham Qasim of verbally assaulting them and harassing them on social media while he was physically present at the police station on August 20, 2023.

Regarding the legal aspects of the case, it is evident that the Egyptian authorities have engaged in deliberate misconduct towards Hisham Kassem. This is apparent in the prosecution's unusual insistence on requesting bail for a libel and slander case. Furthermore, the defense team did not have access to the case file and reports before the trial session, and Mr. Hisham Kassem was denied his right to visits from family and lawyers despite his legal entitlement to weekly visits during pretrial detention. It is also worth noting that holding Mr. Hisham Kassem in detention during trial sessions is an uncommon legal procedure, unless in cases of premeditated murder or other serious crimes. This has not previously been applied in cases of publication or libel and slander.

These violations and deliberate mistreatment against one of the prominent figures and leaders of the opposition in the Egyptian political scene coincide with the resumption of national dialogue sessions, which the Egyptian authorities claim to be a cornerstone of improving human rights, expanding political participation, and opening up the public sphere in Egypt. They also coincide with the preparations for the upcoming presidential elections and the release of the annual report of the National Council for Human Rights, which claims an improvement in the human rights situation. The actions taken against Mr. Kassem clearly violate his right to participate in public life, as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the Egyptian state is a signatory and which is an integral part of Egyptian law.

The undersigned organisations hereby condemn the arbitrary practices against Mr. Kassem, including the physical and moral targeting, fabrication of charges, and the obstinacy exhibited during the litigation process. We hold the Egyptian authorities fully responsible for the safety of Mr. Hisham Kassem, who is 64 years old and has been on a consecutive fourteen-day hunger strike. We call on international and regional human rights mechanisms to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Hesham Kassem.

Signatory organisations:

  1. - Justice Support Foundation
  2. - Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms
  3. - Egyptian Forum for Human Rights
  4. - Humena for Human Rights and Civil Participation
  5. - Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  6. - Law and Democracy Support Foundation
  7. - Virtual Activism Incorporated
  8. - Arabic Center for Law and Society Studies
  9. - AL-Nadeem Center
  10. - Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies
  11. - International Institute for Media and Freedom of Expression.
  12.  EgyptWide for Human Rights 
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