Dr. Amr Hamzawy, a professor of political science at Cairo University and of public policy at the American University in Cairo, faces criminal charges in Egypt for expressing his opinions on Twitter. He wrote that he found shocking and obviously political a verdict against 43 employees of Western-based civil society groups. The employees were found guilty of “receiving illegal funds” and “undermining national security.” His trial for his offense, which might entail three years in jail, is upcoming.
CCS asks for dismissal of charges against Dr. Hamzawy’s based on his right to express his opinion.
Dr. Hazem Beblawi
Office of the Prime Minister
Maglis al-Sha’ab Street
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
March 21, 2014
We write to you in support of Amr Hamzawy, who was charged with insulting the Judiciary on January 19, 2014.
Prof. Hamzawy is a professor of political science at Cairo University and of public policy at the American University in Cairo. We understand from Scholars at Risk that on January 19, 2014, he was charged with the crime of insulting the judiciary, a charge which carries the potential sentence of three years in jail. The alleged basis of the charge is a public comment by Prof. Hamzawy over six months earlier. In June 2013, 43 employees of Western-backed civil society groups, including the National Democratic Institute, International Republican Institute, and Freedom House, were found guilty of receiving illegal foreign funds in order to “undermine Egypt’s national security and lay out a sectarian, political map that serves United States and Israeli interests.” In a Twitter message, Prof. Hamzawy described his opinion of the verdict as “shocking, transparency lacking, facts undocumented & politicization evident.”
The facts as described suggest that Prof. Hamzawy’s comments were protected expression related to his professional competence as a political scientist. Prosecution for such comments therefore suggests retaliation against a scholar for nonviolent exercise of academic freedom and free expression, both recognized under international standards including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Egypt is a signatory.
Therefore, we urge you to investigate the circumstances of this case and to dismiss all charges against Professor Hamzawy based on his expression of opinion, as a firm and clear demonstration of Egypt’s commitment to academic freedom, free inquiry and to quality higher education, as essential elements of free, stable and prosperous societies.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Dr. Mohamed Fayek, President
National Council on Human Rights
Mr. Adel Abd al-Hameed, Minister of Justice
- Free Speech In Egypt, Where A Tweet Can Mean Indictment (npr.org)
- INTERVIEW-Egyptian liberal finds enemies on all sides (trust.org)
- Egyptian Liberal Finds Enemies on All Sides (nytimes.com)