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Egypt: CFJ expresses solidarity with Hisham Kassem during his hunger strike and calls for his immediate release

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Press Release

By: The Committee for Justice (CFJ)

Geneva: September 6, 2023


Publisher, journalist, and former president of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, as well as the chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Free Current Coalition, Hisham Kassem, has announced a hunger strike from within his prison cell. This is in protest against the Egyptian authorities’ actions against him, which he states are intended to emotionally and morally harm him ever since he announced the founding of the Free Current Coalition in early June of last year. According to Kassem’s family and lawyer, he began his hunger strike on August 22, after being

detained pretrial since August 20, in connection to charges of defamation and verbal assault on public officials. His first court hearing was on September 2, 2023, and has been adjourned to Saturday, September 9, 2023.


Smear Campaign and Targeting:

Several local Egyptian media channels launched a widespread smear campaign against Kassem ever since his participation in founding what is known as the Free Current—a liberal a coalition of liberal political parties and figures opposing the Sisi government and seeking to present alternative economic policies. Kassem was interrogated at the Sayeda Zeinab Prosecutor’s Office on August 20th based on a complaint filed by Kamal Abu Aita, a former minister and a member of the committee responsible for recommending presidential pardons. Abu Aita accused Kassem of slander and defamation against him. After his initial release without bail, his lawyers were shocked by another complaint filed against him by officers in the Sayeda Zeinab police station, accusing him of defamation and assault against them. He was then detained for four days for investigation and sent for expedited trial.


Support and Calls for Release:

CFJ announces its solidarity with the Egyptian journalist, politician, and human rights defender, Hisham Kassem. It supports his hunger strike as a form of peaceful resistance and warns against any attempts by the Egyptian authorities to forcibly intervene to halt his strike or feed him, stating that this would be a form of torture, in violation of the Tokyo and Malta Declarations and the United Nations’ statements on prisoners’ hunger strikes. CFJ calls for Kassem’s immediate release and the application of alternatives to pretrial detention. CFJ also demands a fair trial for him, especially given that his lawyers have not been able to access the case files, compromising his right to a defense. CFJ also urges the Egyptian authorities to cease targeting and smearing human rights defenders and political opponents through their media arms and to provide a safe and conducive environment for them to work freely.

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