Defense says international pressure played major role in decision
CAIRO: The general prosecution in Nasr City issued a release order Wednesday for detained Muslim Brotherhood blogger/journalist Abdel Moneim Mahmoud, lawyer Islam Lotfy told The Daily Star Egypt.
Mahmoud has been held at Mahkum prison since his arrest on April 14 pending investigation into his membership in a banned organization. The release order was made for lack of evidence. “We are ecstatic about the news. This is a very important decision not only for my client but for all civil society in Egypt, Lotfy said.
While Mahmoud has officially been accused of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood organization, local and international rights groups argue that the real reason behind Mahmoud’s arrest is his work in exposing the torture and abuse allegedly committed by Egyptian security service on his internet blog,
Upon his release from prison the next days, Mahmoud will reportedly spend one day at a state security facility in Alexandria before being able to return to his family home also in Alexandria.
“If everything goes as planned, he will be home by Saturday, Lotfy said.
Furthermore, while the prosecution reportedly ordered the release based on lack of evidence, Lotfy emphasized that continuous pressure from international rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists “played a major role in the decision.
“The strong advocacy efforts by international rights groups and civil society activists demanding Mahmoud’s release really pushed the Egyptian authorities this time, I believe. The release of my client is a step in the right direction for Egypt, especially considering its important new role as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, he continued
Following Egypt’s accession to the UN agency last week, reputable rights group Human Rights Watch immediately urged the Egyptian authorities to “turn a new page on human rights and uphold international standards.
“Egypt has for too long committed serious and systematic abuses at home while consistently undermining UN mechanisms to defend rights. Its appalling domestic rights record includes routine torture in police stations, arbitrary arrests of non-violent dissidents, and crippling restrictions on civil society organizations. If Egypt is serious about cleaning up its human rights performance, it should start by allowing the Center for Trade Union and Workers’ Services to reopen, and by freeing Ayman Nour and Abd Al-Moneim Mahmoud, the organization stated in a recent press release.
However, Brotherhood member Ibrahim El-Houdaiby emphasized that while the release serves as an “important decision for Egypt with regards to the country’s poor human rights conditions, he stressed that “one must not forget those opposition activists still in detainment in Egypt.
“I am of course very happy about Mahmoud’s release, but it is important to not forget those who are still imprisoned in Egypt simply because of their political views and beliefs, such as Ayman Nour and Kareem Amer. We will not stop fighting until freedom is granted to all Egyptians, regardless of their religious or political affiliations, El-Houdaiby told The Daily Star Egypt.
“I am excited about seeing my friend upon his release, he added. “Egypt detained a respectable person who will never stop speaking out about the oppressive practices of the government. I expect Mahmoud to continue working on the same issues he was arrested for as soon as he is released. This experience has only made him a stronger person.