An Egyptian man jailed in Egypt for liking a former presidential candidate’s Facebook post returns to Australia after a ten-month ordeal.
Earlier this year, Waled Youssef, an Australian-Egyptian national, was imprisoned at the notorious Tora prison in Cairo while on vacation with his family.
His lawyers say Youssef is being held in a cramped cell with more than a dozen inmates and unable to distance himself socially because of the coronavirus sweeping Egypt’s prison system.
Youssef was arrested in January 2020 while on an outing with his family in Cairo. Egyptian police searched his belongings and opened his personal Facebook page.
Local police accused the 45-year-old man of belonging to a politically outlawed group because he liked a Facebook post about a former presidential candidate who has since been jailed by Egypt.
His lawyers dispute all claims made against Youssef and say he has never been a member of a political party or belonged to a banned political group.
During his arrest, Youssef’s lawyers lobbied the United Nations and the Australian government to intervene on behalf of the dual national after he was prevented from appealing the allegations or visiting guests.
An Egyptian court later ordered his release on October 14 and dropped the charges against him. She was released 12 days later and forced to wait weeks for her flight back to Australia.
Commenting on his return, Youssef said he was “relieved to finally be home.”
“I didn’t expect that a trip to visit my family would see me thrown in Tora prison,” Youssef said in a statement issued by his lawyer.
“Those were the 10 most terrible months of my life. I just wanted to heal and recover from this unbelievable and horrendous experience.”
Human Rights Watch called on the Egyptian government to improve medical care in Egypt’s overcrowded prison system. At least 116,000 Egyptians have contracted Covid-19 with 6,636 people dying from the virus.
Youssef’s return came as Egypt continued imprisonment rights activist who met with European diplomats.
Three members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) were arrested this week on charges including “joining a terror group” and “spreading fake news”.
Administrative manager Mohamed Basheer, director of criminal justice Karim Ennarah and the organization’s executive director, Gasser Abdel-Razek, were detained following a meeting the EIPR organized at his office in Cairo on November 3 to discuss human rights in the country.
Diplomats from Britain, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland attended the meeting.
According to the advocacy group, Basheer was asked by the Supreme Prosecutor for State Security (SSSP) about the work of the EIPR, including a meeting in the Egyptian capital.