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CALL TO ACTION: Egyptian Journalist & Human Rights Defender Hossam Bahgat Must Be Released

Submitted by on November 9, 2015 – 11:22 pmNo Comment

9 November 2015

Call to Action: Egyptian Journalist & Human Rights Defender Hossam Bahgat Must Be Released

The Coalition for Sexual and Bodily Rights in Muslim Societies (CSBR) calls for the immediate release of Hossam Bahgat, and for any and all charges against him to be dropped without condition.

Hossam Bahgat is a leading Egyptian journalist and human rights defender, and is also the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). Hossam Bahgat is being unlawfully detained by the military prosecutor, with the location of his whereabouts unknown.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION in circulating the news, and writing to your governments and diplomatic missions, asking them to call for the immediate release of Hossam Bahgat. Please use the information provided below in your actions.


Background:

On Thursday 5 November, a ranked officer left a note summoning Hossam Bahgat to military intelligence unit 77 in Cairo’s eastern district of Nasr City, for 09h00 on Sunday November 8th. Hossam Baghat was accompanied by two friends to the summons, who saw him enter Unit 77 just after 09h30 on November 8th.

For the next eight hours, Hossam Bahgat was interrogated without legal counsel, his whereabouts unknown. It was later learned that he was transferred from the military intelligence unit to the military prosecution around midday. It was only after 17h30 that Bahgat was allowed to call lawyers of his choosing.

After that point, 15 human rights lawyers attended the on-going interrogation. His lawyers said that the military prosecutor had interrogated Hossam solely in connection with his writing and in particular the one investigative report he wrote for the online newspaper Mada Masr on 13 October 2015.

They said that the charges against him were Article 102 bis “deliberately spreading false information with the purpose of harming public order or public interest” and Article 188 “publishing, with malicious intent, false news that is likely to disturb public order.”


Violation of Constitutional Rights & Human Rights:
In a statement on November 8th, Amnesty International said Bahgat’s interrogation “is a clear signal of the Egyptian authorities’ resolve to continue with their ferocious onslaught against independent journalism and civil society.”

It is well known that Egypt’s military intelligence had summoned a number of journalists in recent months under the auspices of a draconian ‘counter-terrorism’ law that criminalizes journalists who publish information that differs from the accounts of the Ministry of Defence.

However as Egypt’s civil society groups have noted, these interrogations have usually lasted a few hours, and often ended with a pledge from the journalist to commit to cease publications on specific topics.

The decision to detain Bahgat for 4-days on the basis of his journalism, after eight hours of interrogation without legal counsel, and then to refuse to release information on his whereabouts today, represents a clear move to intimidate civil society and a heightened attack on what little space for freedom of expression in Egypt remains.

The decision is also a gross violation of Hossam Bahgat’s constitutional and human rights, particularly Article 71 regarding freedom of publication of the 2014 Constitution, as well as Egypt’s responsibilities under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

CSBR calls for the immediate release of Hossam Bahgat and for any and all charges against him to be dropped without condition. Please take action by contacting your governments today.


TAKE ACTION:

(1) WRITE/EMAIL/TELEPHONE your governments at home, as well as your government’s diplomatic missions in Egypt:

    • Please write/email/telephone your government, in any language, asking them to call for the immediate release of Hossam Baghat. Please use the information provided above in your appeals.
      • You can find the mailing addresses, email addresses, and telephone numbers of all government Embassies and Consulates within Egypt, as well as Egypt’s Embassies and Consulates abroad here: http://www.embassypages.com/egypt


(2) Spread the news and contact your governments on TWITTER:

    • Tweet the following message & a picture of Hossam Bahgat addressed to your government officials:

@_______ @______ @_______ must demand #Egypt government #FreeHossam immediately&unconditionally. http://bit.ly/1M3hUth

Egypt_Hossam Bahgat_Sq_0

 

(3) Share this release across your social media platforms

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For more information, please contact eipr@eipr.org

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