On January 25, 2022, the Vienna-based Central European University (CEU) held an online conference on academic freedom in Egypt to protest the detainment of their student Ahmed Samir Santawy, who was sentenced by the Egyptian court on June 22, 2021, to four years on arbitrary charges and has been kept in solitary confinement since then. Endangered Scholars Worldwide condemns the Egyptian authorities’ excessive use of repressive measures including indefinite pre-trial detention, arbitrary revival of cases, and torture and harassment to silence the freedom of expression. We call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately drop the arbitrary verdict against Ahmed Samir Santawy and immediately and unconditionally release him.
Ahmed Samir Santawy before the arrest. Courtesy of Twitter.
Ahmed Samir Santawy, whose research concentrates on the protection of women’s reproductive rights and their access to safe and legal treatment, is pursuing a master’s degree in sociology and cultural anthropology at the CEU, originally a Budapest-based university that was relocated to Vienna in 2019 under the pressure from the Hungarian government. Upon his arrival in Egypt on December 15, 2020, he was interrogated by the security authorities at Sharm el-Sheikh airport. On January 23, 2021, a National Security unit raided his family house in Cairo requesting him to present at the police station. Following this order, Santawy was detained on February 1, 2021, and transferred to an unknown location in the following days.
On February 6, 2021, he was interrogated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution on charges of terrorism based on the secret investigations neither Ahmed nor his lawyers were allowed to examine. In the following months, his pre-trial detention was extended multiple times – another widespread practice of Egyptian authorities after the 2013 coup d’état – before a new investigation over his social media posts was launched on May 22, 2021 and hastily sent to the court on May 29, 2021 with additional charges of spreading fake news concerning the situation in Egypt from abroad.
On June 22, 2021, the State Security Emergency Misdemeanor Court sentenced Ahmed Samir Santawy to four years in prison. Since the rulings of this court cannot be appealed due to their application under the state of emergency, the President of Egypt is the sole person that can repeal the sentence in accordance with the emergency law.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide calls upon international organizations, universities, and other academic institutions, as well as individuals devoted to the advocation and protection of human Santawy and other unjustly detained and persecuted scholars and activists, including Patrick George Zaki, Kholoud Said, and Marwa Arafa. Please write to the following representatives and to the diplomatic missions of Egypt in your respective countries urging the Egyptian government to drop the charges and immediately release Ahmed Samir Santawy and other detainees:
Ambassador Yasser Reda
Egyptian Embassy to the United States
3521 International Ct. NW
Washington DC 20008
Mohamed Fathi Ahmed Edrees
Egyptian Permanent Representative to the United Nations
800 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10017