Political detainees suffer torture and humiliation in police stations

The lawyers of Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression filed a report to the attorney general, on Sunday, on behalf of journalist Mohamed Salah, against the commissioner of Dar al-Salam Police Station. The report said that Salah was denied visits and getting food and clothes from outside and that he was being assaulted. Mohamed Salah is a journalist, who was arrested in November 2019 at the same time as his friends, the married journalists Solafa Magdy and Hossam el-Sayyad. Salah is accused of joining a terrorist group, funding it and publishing false news and statements on social media in case no. 855 of year 2020. They are the same charges he was accused of in case no. 448 of year 2019, for which he was previously granted parole. Case no. 855 of year 2020 includes well-known human rights defenders and journalists such as Solafa Magdy, Esraa Abdel Fattah, Mahienour el-Masry and Amr Emam along with Salah.

Torture and humiliation

Salah’s family appealed to save Salah and his cell mates in the custody of Dar al-Salam Police Station, where he has been detained since last July. Haitham Salah, Mohamed’s brother, said that he went, on Friday, to give food and new clothes to his brother in jail, but he was told that no visits are allowed for political detainees. He asked one of the officers why and he told Haitham that these are the “supreme orders.” Haitham turned to the commissioner, who told him that “visits are banned days or even weeks until new instructions arrive.”

Haitham attempted to deliver the food to his brother through an indirect route, but the police secretaries told him to meet the associate officer. “He said that they had committed a big mistake, so they are denied things allowed beforehand such as getting food from outside, but now they have to eat the food provided by the station,” said Haitham. “When I appeared worried about his words, he said: ‘Do not worry, he has not died yet’,” Haitham added.

The following day, Haitham knew unofficially that Salah and 13 other detainees were subjected to torture on Friday, as “a force of cops stormed the cell and obligated the detainees to take their clothes off then hit them with batons continuously for four hours.” Moreover, the cell was stripped of clothes and blankets. They were also denied food.

Punishment for demanding rights

Salah was transferred to the station in July after getting parole, but he was later inserted in case no. 855 of year 2020, to prevent his release. He had been denied visits over those months, while his family was allowed only to deliver supplies to him twice weekly without seeing him. Therefore, the family filed complaints to the attorney general, the cabinet and National Council of Human Rights, so an exceptional visit for just minutes was allowed in December.

Haitham explains that other families with detained relatives also made complaints about not being able to see their relatives. This was considered by police as a campaign which warrants humiliation and maltreatment, which escalated to physical assaults.

Doubled violations

What happened with journalist Mohamed Salah is consistent with the security services’ mentality in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities did not stop at detaining Salah just for accompanying his colleague Esraa Abdel Fattah, who was targeted, but furthermore state-sponsored newspapers smeared them, accusing them of having secret affairs.

It is an irony that news about torturing Salah and his cell mates and humiliating them came parallel to the circulation of a video interview with musician Hany Mehanna, who accompanied Alaa and Gamal, sons of the ousted president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak, in prison in 2014 after they were all accused of corruption. Mehanna talked about the luxurious life they led, along with other businessmen and officials in the prison, including having a gym and a sauna. This is while Salah and other detainees are denied food and clothes.