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Egypt: A call for an open investigation regarding a prominent researcher’s mysterious death

The mysterious death of economist Ayman Hadhoud in custody adds to the long list of blatant human rights violations targeting scholars, students, and researchers in Egypt.

Ayman Hadhoud. © Private

Ayman Mohamed Ali Hadhoud, 48, graduated from the American University in Cairo with a BA and an MA in Business Administration. He was a founding member of the liberal Reform and Development Party, where he served as a senior economic advisor and was known for his critique of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s economic policies. Before he disappeared in February 2022, Hadhoud was conducting research on some politically delicate topics, such as the Egyptian military’s role in the country’s economy.

Following his disappearance in February, Hadhoud’s family was first told that he was detained at Al-Amiriyya Police Station, from which he was transferred to Abbasiya Psychiatric Hospital for a medical evaluation. Despite their multiple legal requests, the family was denied access to visit him in both locations.

There has been a widespread call for an investigation of whether Hadhoud was a victim of forced disappearance, torture, and murder, as some experts, including Hadhoud’s lawyer, have suggested. According to his death certificate, Hadhoud died on March 5 while under custody at Abbasiya Psychiatric Hospital, but his family was not notified of his death for over a month. On April 9, one of Hadhoud’s brothers viewed his body and later told Human Rights Watch that his brother had “many bruises all over his face and had a cracked skull.”. According to friends and family of Hadhoud, the doctor who was conducting the autopsy rejected requests for independent observers and performed the procedure without any supervision.

The Public Prosecution declared on April 12 that there was “no criminal suspicion in his death” and, on April 18, it closed the investigation, declaring that his death was the result of a “chronic heart condition”. They denied any allegations of mistreatment or forced disappearance. The lack of transparency and contradictory official reports regarding his arrest and death raises deeply troubling concerns and fails to provide Hadhoud’s family and friends with the answers they seek.

Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) condemns the continuing pattern of repression of academics and researchers by unwarranted detention, persecution, and mistreatment in Egypt and joins the call to open an independent investigation of Ayman Hadhoud's death and provide clear information about how the authorities handled his case. We ask that any parties who had a role in his mistreatment, torture, or death be held legally responsible.

ESW calls on 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 international law.

Please send appeals to the following:

Ambassador Motaz Zahran

Egyptian Embassy to the United States

3521 International Ct. NW

Washington DC 20008


Mohamed Fathi Ahmed Edrees

Egyptian Permanent Representative to the United Nations

United Nations

800 Second Avenue

New York, NY 10017


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