In a retrial on July 4th, Ahmed Samir Santawy, a master’s student at Central European University (CEU), was re-sentenced to three years in prison by an Egyptian State Security Emergency Misdemeanor Court on the charge of “spreading false news.” Santawy has been detained since February 2021 and has withstood unjust trials and punishments for his research, which focuses on women’s rights and reproductive rights in Egypt. His conviction was also prompted by social media posts in which he allegedly criticized human rights violations in Egyptian prisons and the state’s mishandling of the pandemic, though Santawy has denied writing the posts.
Endangered Scholars Worldwide (ESW) has closely monitored Santawy’s case since his initial four-year prison sentence in June of 2021 and then his retrial, which was postponed multiple times, until May 2022. Throughout his detainment, Santawy was beaten and blindfolded for days on end, and in June 2021, he went on hunger strike for 40 days to protest his first sentencing, which led to the quick deterioration of his health and subsequently, his hospitalization. Since the announcement of his retrial, he has been kept in solitary confinement.
In a recent press release, CEU’s Rector, Shalini Randeria, called Santawy’s sentencing a “mockery of justice,” describing him as a “prisoner of conscience” sent to jail for “exercising his freedom of opinion and expression as a researcher and as a private citizen.” Mohamed Abd El-Salam, executive director at Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, has also stated that “Santawy’s case is a part of the crackdown on Egyptian academics, especially those who belong to the Western academic institutions.”
ESW condemns the Egyptian court’s ruling and denounces the Egyptian authorities’ excessive use of repressive measures including indefinite pre-trial detention, arbitrary revival of cases, and harassment to silence Santawy’s freedom of expression as a scholar and a private citizen, which is protected under both the Egyptian Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Egypt is a party. We at ESW join other parties in strongly calling upon the Egyptian government to immediately drop the politically motivated sentences against Ahmed Samir Santawy and others facing similar charges and demand their immediate and unconditional release. 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