The Egyptian authorities must drop all charges against Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger and human rights activist who rose to prominence during the 2011 uprising, and at least 23 other defendants, who could face up to four years in prison simply for criticizing the country’s flawed justice system, said Amnesty International.
A Cairo criminal court is due to hand down its verdict in the case against a total of 25 defendants, on Saturday 30 September. At least 24 of the defendants including Alaa Abdel Fattah, Egyptian politician Amr Hamzawy, and former Member of Parliament Essam Sultan, have been charged with defamation for their legitimate criticism of the Egyptian judiciary as biased and a puppet in the hands of the state.
“This trial is an attempt to silence criticism of a judiciary that has itself become a source of human rights violations. ‘Insulting’ public institutions or officials is not a criminal offence under international law, and no one should stand trial - let alone face imprisonment - for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa Campaigns Director at Amnesty International.