Abdeen prosecution authorities decided Wednesday to renew the detention of Taher Mokhtar, Hossam Ahmed, and Ahmed Hassan for 45 days, human rights lawyers reported.
Mokhtar, a doctor working at the Freedoms Committee at the Doctors Syndicate, is facing charges for possession of pamphlets which “aim to overthrow the regime”.
Those “unpleasant” documents were revealed to be related to the poor conditions in detention facilities. Having worked with vulnerable social groups such as refugees and prisoners, Mokhtar was officially assigned by the syndicate to handle the file related to the health standards of prisoners and detainees in Egypt.
The syndicate issued a statement shortly after Mokhtar’s arrest confirming his work and condemning his legal prosecution. “The possession of papers demanding reform of the healthcare system and denouncing medical negligence inside prisons is not, in fact, a crime,” the syndicate said.
The actual crime is the non-application of constitutional article no.18, which stipulates that “every citizen has the right to health and to comprehensive health care which complies with quality standards of service”.
His co-defendants, engineering student Ahmed and law student Hassan, are Mokhar’s flatmates. They were home when security forces raided their residence on 14 January, which resulted in their arrest and also their submission to the same charges faced by Mokhtar.
Three days after their arrest, 14 local NGOs issued a statement demanding their immediate unconditional release. A copy of their statement published by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) read that the three young men were interrogated for nine hours by National Security officers inside Abdeen police station.
NGOs decried the defendants were denied the right to an attorney and seeing the police report to be informed of the charges against them. The NGOs considered the incident as part of a series of repressive security measures challenging public space and “tightening its grip on freedom of expression, as well as harassing activists and human rights’ defenders”.