Mahmoud Rehan, Vice President of the Worker’s Independent Syndicate, was acquitted on Thursday after a Cairo court dismissed charges of “insulting the president”.
The court’s decision was described by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) as “positive” in a statement on Monday.
Despite welcoming the court decision, the group added that it demanded that the authorities remove the crime of “insulting the president” from the Penal Code.
“This is the first case of ‘insulting the president’ under President Al-Sisi, although this ruling is a good step, yet it is not enough, as the crime itself is a freedom restricting crime that only exists in authoritarian regimes and an amendment to the Penal Code must be passed to cancel this charge completely,” said ANHRI in a Monday statement.
Rehan was arrested over charges of “insulting the country’s president” and “revealing secrets that harm national security on his personal Facebook account”, his lawyer told Daily News Egypt.
He was arrested from his work by state security forces and charged with being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood group. The prosecution, however, dropped these charges and instead accused him of insulting the president on social media.
The defendant was known for criticising the current regime’s policies against freedoms and labour rights, and fighting corruption in the aviation field.
The Ministry of Interior has been arresting suspects over charges of “inciting violence”, “insulting the country’s leading figures”, and “calling for protests”, through social media.
The lack of freedom of speech in Egypt has been widely criticised by human rights organisations.