Protesters gathered outside the Saudi embassy in Giza on Wednesday to mark one year since the arrest of Egyptian lawyer Ahmed Al-Gizawy by Saudi security forces.
Al-Gizawy was sentenced to five years in prison and 300 lashes by the General Court of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia in January. He was accused of drug trafficking.
Chants were loud outside the embassy despite the relatively small number of protesters. Security presence was not heavy; only around a dozen police officers were present in the protest, mostly coordinating between the protest and the flow of traffic.
The protest followed a march that began at Cairo University around noon. The march was organised by political movements who announced solidarity with the imprisoned lawyer. They included the Kefaya movement, 6 April Youth Movement (democratic front), Ikhwan Kazeboon movement and the Revolutionary Front for Peaceful Change.
Shahenda Al-Gizawy, the imprisoned lawyer’s wife, held a banner with her husband’s photo outside the embassy, chanting for his release.
“Today, Al-Gizawy completed a full year of imprisonment in the prison of the Al Saud family,” Shahenda said. “Throughout the year, he has been deprived of all his rights to a fair trial, a lawyer to represent him in court, proper medication, communicating with his family, and receiving visits.”
She claimed her husband was subjected to physical torture. “When he complained to the judge during one of his trial sessions, the torture became verbal,” she said. She said her husband was forced to watch the execution of other prisoners and received threats that his turn is soon to come.
“The state is not supporting us by any means,” she said. She stated that despite the fact that her husband is innocent and that all the evidence acquitting him is available, nobody is standing by him.
Some of the protesters tried to negotiate with the embassy security to schedule a visit with the Saudi ambassador in the hope of submitting a formal demand calling for Al-Gizawy’s release.
A Saudi court accepted in February an appeal lodged by Al-Gizawy.
Al-Gizawy was arrested in Jeddah on 17 April 2012. He was on his way to perform Umrah in Mecca but was detained at King Abdul Aziz Airport where Saudi authorities alleged he was in possession of roughly 21,000 Xanax anti-anxiety pills; illegal in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Gizawy had previously worked on cases aiming to improve conditions for Egyptians living and working in Saudi Arabia. Human rights groups have pointed at his record of activism as political motivation for the Saudi Arabian government to detain him.
Al-Gizawy’s arrest sparked widespread protests in Egypt, prompting Saudi Arabia to recall its ambassador and close its embassy and consulate in Egypt.