9 November 2017 – Egypt’s authorities should immediately release blogger and activist, Alaa Abd El Fattah, and drop all charges against him, PEN International said today. Egypt’s highest court of appeal today upheld the five-year prison sentence handed down to Abd El Fattah in February 2015 for taking part in peaceful demonstrations in Egypt, following the January 2011 uprising.
The blogger, activist and software engineer was a leading voice among Egyptian netizens seeking to facilitate a movement for political change in the wake of the January 2011 uprising that ended the 30-year-rule of Hosni Mubarak.
According to the 8 November verdict, Abd El Fattah must serve the remaining year-and-a-half of his sentence, followed by an additional five years under probation. He is also required to pay a fine of EGP 100,000 (approx. US$5,667). Abd El Fattah’s original 15-year sentence was reduced to five years following a retrial in February 2015. The latest ruling cannot be appealed.
‘Today, Egypt’s authorities had the chance to correct an appalling travesty of justice and free Alaa, who has been imprisoned for over three years for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly. Instead they have shown yet again their blatant disregard for the most basic of human rights. As long as Alaa remains behinds bars, Egypt remains in violation of international standards and PEN will continue to stand with him and call for his freedom,’ said Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.
‘Alaa Abd El Fattah has always used his gifts as a writer, a techie and an activist to advocate for freedom of expression and information, and to empower the voices and ideas of the young, for which he is now paying the price.’ – said the renowned Egyptian novelist, commentator and aunt of Alaa Abd El Fattah.
PEN International has been campaigning for Alaa Abd El Fattah’s release since his arrest in 2014.