On June 3, 2018, Walid Salem, a University of Washington doctoral student conducting research on Egypt’s judiciary system was detained in Cairo on charges of “spreading false news” and “belonging to a terrorist group,” among other crimes, according to his lawyer Mokhtar Mounir.
Salem’s arrest comes during a wave of detentions of journalists and activists in Egypt that has drawn scrutiny from Human Rights Watch and other organizations concerned that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Egyptian government are seeking to oppress opposition voices.
Concern for Salem’s whereabouts grew last week on the University of Washington campus after a post about Nour Farahat, a law professor in Egypt's, meeting with Salem was removed from Faraht's Facebook page.
After meeting with the professor, Salem was arrested by intelligence officers, taken to an unknown location, and blindfolded, said Mounir. The attorney also reported that after Salem's appearance before a state security prosecutor days later, he was taken to Tora prison near Cairo, where he remains.
“As of now, there’s no justification for Walid’s arrest. Most of the individuals in this case don’t have a prior relationship with each other,” Mounir said. “We’re living through a period where we’ve seen a wave of these types of arrests for no clear reason.”
Under Egyptian law, suspects can be held for up to 15 days while matters are under investigation if a suspect is considered a danger to society or presents a flight risk. Those periods of detention can be extended by law for up to two years.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide deplores and condemns the detention and persecution of Walid Salem and calls upon all international organizations, academic and professional associations, and other groups and individuals devoted to the promotion and defense of human rights to strongly protest and condemn this arbitrary incarceration; to call for his immediate and unconditional release; and to urge the officials of the Egyptian government to respect, guarantee, and implement the provisions and principles of human rights as specified in international conventions and treaties in accordance with Egypt’s obligations under law.