March 26, 2021
Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi
Al Ittihadia Palace
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Dear President Al-Sisi:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers, and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and academic freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern over the recent detainment in Egypt of Mr. Ahmed Samir Santawy, who is a second-year Master’s student in Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Central European University (“CEU”) in Vienna, Austria. This detainment occurred while he was in Egypt visiting his family.
On December 15, 2021, the Egyptian police interrogated Mr. Santawy. On January 23, 2021, they raided his family home. On February 1, 2021, authorities arrested Mr. Santawy when he presented himself, as requested, to the police station. Since then, he has been charged by the Supreme State Security Prosecution (“SSSP”) with membership in and financing of an unspecified terrorist group and with “using a social media account to spread false news,” which Mr. Santawy has denied. Since his detainment, he has suffered multiple human rights violations: he was not allowed to contact anyone for five days and was beaten while blindfolded; he is reportedly being held in solitary confinement and is denied access to his family, his lawyer, proper nutrition, personal hygiene, and clothing. All of these present a particular concern during COVID-19 and cold nights. Additionally, he is not allowed to be present for SSSP’s decisions.
We are concerned that the arrest of Mr. Santawy was, in reality, in retaliation for his studies of women’s reproductive rights in Egypt, and is part of a recurring pattern of prosecuting women’s rights activists as well as peaceful social media users.
Egypt is a signatory of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”), which protects freedom of speech and thought (Article 19). We write to urge Egypt to recognize its international commitments and release Mr. Santawy if the charges against him are without merit.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. We will be closely following developments in this case.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador of Egypt to the United States
Turkiye Buyuk Millet Meclisi
3521 International Court, NW
Washington, DC 20008 USA
Phone: (202) 895-5400
Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
Phone: (202) 647-4000