Egypt rejects Germany’s demand to release human rights activists

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Egypt accused the German government of blatant and unjustified interference in the Egyptian internal affairs, and of judging a judicial track without evidence or objective support. Also, Egypt expressed its strong dissatisfaction with the statement issued by the German Foreign Ministry, which called for the release of a number of human rights activists.

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Saturday, in which it affirmed its complete rejection of interference in internal affairs, and the necessity of respecting the rule of law and the constitution of the Egyptian state. “Assuming a specific judicial outcome is totally rejected because it represents a waste of the judiciary and justice, the principles of the rule of law, and what the constitution stipulates of the separation of powers,” the Egyptian statement read. The statement issued by the German Foreign Ministry was described as unacceptable, too.

The German Foreign Ministry had called for the release of activist and blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, journalist Mohamed Ibrahim Radwan, known as “Oxygen,” and human rights lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer, stressing that “lawyers should not be punished for practicing their professional activities.” It is stated in the German statement that the federal government’s view is that freedom of expression is the basis for social peace, the participation of all social circles, and sustainable stability.

Germany had also indicated its hope that Egypt would work to achieve a fair trial, and that the verdict in the activists’ case would be an indication of the direction in which the human rights situation in Egypt is developing. Although the German statement praised the recent steps taken by the Egyptian government to improve the human rights situation, including the launch of the first Egyptian Strategy for Human Rights in September 2021, this did not reduce the severity of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s response, and its statement that it is more appropriate that the German government “pays attention to its internal challenges instead of imposing its guardianship on others.”

The Egyptian statement added that the government “is surprised by the German government’s request to respect the law, and at the same time calls for intervention and influence on the rulings of the Egyptian judiciary, which is known for its independence, impartiality and integrity.” The Egyptian government accused its German counterpart of adopting “double standards.”

The news and media deprtment of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva had also released a statement earlier this month by United Nations human rights experts, in which they called on Egypt to stop the misuse of counter-terrorism measures against civil society activists, lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders. The experts also demanded the immediate release of the three activists. The HRC statement pointed out that the Egyptian authorities accused Abdel-Fattah, El-Baqer and Radwan of vague crimes such as “spreading false news that is likely to pose a threat to national security.” The three are still being held under new orders, clearly exceeding the legal limits of pretrial detention.