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Egypt: Alaa Abdel Fattah referred to trial after two years of provisional detention

Lawyer Khalid Ali says Abdel Fattah, Mohamed al-Baqer, and Mohamed Ibrahim (Oxygen) will stand trial on Monday before a criminal court
Alaa Abdel Fattah, an Egyptian left-wing activist, has been held in pre-trial detention since September 2019 (AFP/file photo)

Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, Mohamed Ibrahim (Oxygen), and lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer are due to face trial on Monday after spending more than two years in provisional detention, according to their lawyer Khaled Ali.

The trial will be held before the Emergency State Security Misdemeanors Court, in Cairo's Fifth Settlement district, Ali said on Saturday.

The three have been held in connection with case number 1356/2019, since September 2019, on charges of “belonging to a terrorist group," "misuse of social media platforms," and "publishing false news”. 

Amnesty International has condemned the charges as "unfounded", and described their prison conditions as "inhumane". 

Denied family visits

In August, a Cairo-based rights group condemned the treatment of Oxygen, a prominent Egyptian blogger, saying that he attempted to take his own life in prison but was prevented in the last moments. 

The rights groups said Ibrahim had been denied visits from his family since February 2020 and funds sent to him were restricted.  

On Saturday, Abdel Fattah's sister Mona Seif said she visited him in jail, and that "he is behaving as if he will die in prison".

'It was a horrible day. I've never seen my brother in that situation. Never in my life have I seen him so angry and fed-up with life'

- Abdel Fattah's sister Mona Seif

"It was a horrible day. I've never seen my brother in that situation. Never in my life have I seen him so angry and fed-up with life.

"He was talking as if his son was already orphaned."

'Life in danger'

Abdel Fattah's family said last month that he was contemplating suicide due to the mistreatment he was subjected to in jail. 

“Alaa is in imminent danger, his mental health is failing after two years of careful planning and cruel implementation by the Ministry of Interior and National Security, and he sends a message to his mother to start receiving condolences for his death!" a family statement said.

"His life is in danger, in a prison that operates completely outside the space of the law and in complete disregard of all officials, foremost the public prosecutor, the minister of interior, the minister of justice, and of course the president.” 

Since the military coup that ousted his democratically elected predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013, President Abdelfattah el-Sisi has overseen what rights groups have described as the worst crackdown on human rights in Egypt's modern history.

Thousands of supporters of Morsi, who hailed from the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as secular activists like Abdel Fattah, have been detained since the coup. Many have died in custody due to poor prison conditions and medical negligence.