Document - Egypt: Further information: New charges delay Douma's release on bail

URGENT ACTION

Further information on UA: 112/13 Index: MDE 12/026/2013 Egypt Date: 7 June 2013

URGENT ACTION

NEW CHARGES DELAY DOUMA'S RELEASE ON BAIL

Opposition activist Ahmed Douma has been sentenced to six months in prison for “insulting the President". He is in Tora Istiqbal Prison despite being granted bail pending his appeal, because the public prosecutor has ordered that he be held for investigation on new charges.

Ahmed Douma was convicted of “insulting the President” by the Fifth Settlement district court in New Cairo on 3 June, and sentenced to six months’ imprisonment. The court ruled that he could be released until his appeal hearing, setting bail at 5,000 Egyptian pounds (US$715). Ahmed Douma was then sent to the Tanta Misdemeanours Court, where he completed the bail procedure. However, he has remained in detention.

Ahmed Douma’s wife told Amnesty International that she had learned through unofficial channels that on 4 June, before Ahmed Douma was to be released on bail, the public prosecutor ordered his arrest on suspicion of involvement in clashes which had taken place near the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood in the south-eastern Cairo suburb of Moqattam in March 2013, an accusation which he denies. Ahmed Douma was transferred on 4 June to Cairo's Tora Istiqbal Prison, where he is awaiting questioning about the new charges. Eleven other activists have been charged in relation to the same events.

Ahmed Douma’s lawyer has told Amnesty International that the public prosecutor failed to inform him or Ahmed Douma of the new charges against him, the reason for his preventive detention or the place of detention to which he would be transferred, in breach of Egypt’s Criminal Procedures Code. He has also said that he has not been told the date when Ahmed Douma will be questioned. Amnesty International is concerned, given the politically motivated nature of the case to date, that the new charges that Ahmed Douma is facing may be a pretext for keeping him in detention in order to punish him for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.

Please write immediately in Arabic, English or your own language:

Urging the authorities to quash Ahmed Douma’s conviction and to release him immediately and unconditionally if he is detained solely for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression;

Calling on them to ensure Ahmed Douma is granted immediate access to his family and lawyers;

Calling on them to investigate the irregularities in Ahmed Douma’s latest detention, in particular the fact that neither he nor his lawyers were notified of the decision to detain him, the exact charges against him or where he was to be detained.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 19 JULY 2013 TO:

Prosecutor General

Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah

Dar al-Qadha al-’Ali

Ramses Street, Cairo, Egypt

Fax: +202 2575 7165

Salutation: Dear Counsellor �And copies to:

Deputy Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Human Rights

Human Rights and International Humanitarian and Social Affairs

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Corniche al-Nil, Cairo, Egypt

Fax: +202 2574 8822

Email: Contact.Us@mfa.gov.eg

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date. This is the second update of UA 112/13. Further information: http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE12/024/2013/en

URGENT ACTION

NEW CHARGES DELAY DOUMA'S RELEASE ON BAIL

Ahmed Douma was detained on 30 April in Tanta, in northern Egypt’s Gharbiya Governorate, after he went to respond to charges of “insulting the President” and “spreading rumours disturbing national security and harming public interest”. His case was brought to the Tanta Misdemeanours Court on 5 May, which postponed the trial to 18 May and referred the case to the Fifth Settlement district court in New Cairo. A verdict was then scheduled for 3 June. The charges on which he was convicted were based on a telephone call he made to a television programme on 25 February, in which he described President Mohamed Morsi as a “killer” for not stopping the killing of opposition protesters.

The 11 other activists who have been charged along Ahmed Douma in connection with their suspected involvement in violence that took place near the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement behind the ruling Freedom and Justice Party, include Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Nowara Negm, Hazem Abdelazeem and Karim Elshaer.

Ahmed Douma is a 24-year-old activist who was previously arrested, and reportedly tortured, by the Egyptian security forces after he attempted to cross into Gaza in solidarity with Palestinians during the 2009 Israeli bombing of Gaza. He was also arrested in December 2012 during the 17-month period when the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruled Egypt following the “25 January Revolution”, after publicly criticizing and demonstrating against the military and Ministry of Interior.

Since President Mohamed Morsi took office in June 2012, scores of people have been questioned by the Public Prosecutor after they publicly criticized the President, his government or the political groups to which his administration is linked. Some have faced arrest and trial. Amnesty International has also documented cases where opposition activists have faced politically motivated or trumped-up charges, apparently to stop them from criticizing the authorities.

Amnesty International has repeatedly called on the Egyptian authorities to decriminalize defamation. Egyptian law criminalizes insulting public officials or “divinely revealed” religions and Egypt’s Constitution does not allow “insults” against individuals or religious prophets.

In a landmark ruling issued in November 2008, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that defamation, libel and slander should be dealt with by the Egyptian authorities under civil, not criminal, law. The body urged the Egyptian authorities to drop prison sentences for anyone facing such charges. It said that “The fundamental right to freedom of opinion and expression, which is the core basis of the human rights system, must prevail when it implies political criticism, even when this criticism is focused on the activities of some concrete persons who have assumed high political responsibilities.

Name: Ahmed Douma

Gender m/f: M

Further information on UA: 112/13 Index: MDE 12/026/2013 Issue Date: 7 June 2013

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