Detained Egyptian rights advocate was planning move to UK, his British wife says

A lobbying campaign is now underway, with expressions of concern coming from US lawmakers, the UN Human Rights Office and the European Union Delegation to Egypt.

“The incoming administration [of US president-elect Joe Biden] must make it clear to Egypt and all countries that, once again, the United States will support democracy, not dictatorship,” said US Senator Bernie Sanders.

“No one should be arrested for having a political opinion,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has raised the men’s detention with his Egyptian counterpart. “We have been in regular contact with the Egyptian authorities since the arrests took place,” a Foreign Office spokesperson said Sunday. “We are working closely with partners in the international community who share our concerns.”

Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said he “rejects any attempt to influence the investigation of the prosecution’s investigation into Egyptian citizens who have been indicted.”

Previous high profile political prisoners have been freed following international pressure, including Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy, Baher Mohamed, and Peter Greste who were arrested in December 2013 and jailed for over a year. 

“The regime got completely sick of hearing about these guys at the start of every meeting with Europe and the US officials,” Ms Kelly said. “We need to be as dogged and relentless in our position that these arrests are unacceptable.”

But Mr Ennarah, who understands the Egyptian judiciary better than most, may yet remain guarded about his odds of obtaining a fair hearing.

“The justice system is on the verge of complete dysfunctionality,” he said in 2016, when interviewed about a toddler sentenced to life in prison in a mistaken identity case. 

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