Egypt Watch

Wife of detained Safwan Thabet dies after refusal of appeals to see him

Maryam Safwan Thabet, the daughter of a detained businessman and the founder of Juhayna Company, the largest producer of milk and bottled juices in Egypt, announced the death of her mother, Bahira El-Shawy, after a long struggle with cancer. Al-Shawi died while her husband, Safwan, and her son, Seif, were imprisoned. The authorities only allowed them to visit her once in the hospital after her health deteriorated, and all attempts to release them for her care failed. Al-Shawy was transferred for the second time to the intensive care unit within 10 days and has been in the hospital for six weeks, according to what her daughter, Maryam, posted on Twitter.

Maryam also announced that she had submitted an official request to the Public Prosecutor, after failing to meet him, explaining her mother’s deteriorating health condition, and requesting the release of her father and brother, who have been imprisoned for more than a year. Thabet and his son, Seif, are imprisoned on charges of financing terrorism and participating in a group established in violation of the law.

Maryam also addressed the National Council for Human Rights, through council member and head of the Reform and Development Party, Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat, who promised her to intervene, but the family has not received any response so far. Sources say that security authorities had pressured Thabet and his son to give up the family’s share in the company in favour of a state investment entity and that his refusal to give up is the real reason behind their imprisonment.

According to human rights reports, Thabet and his son receive poor treatment in prison, as they continue to be held in solitary confinement, and regular visits are prevented from them. They are also prevented from exercising and from getting any books or food from outside. The continued imprisonment of Thabet and his son and the authorities’ refusal to release them or even begin their trial was one of the points on which the US decision to partially withhold aid from Egypt was based.

Last October, the Egyptian Public Prosecution had decided to include Shawy in a new case, alleging that she had spread false news. This came days after she posted a video clip on her Facebook account in which she appealed to President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to look into the case of her husband and son. She was subjected to a lengthy investigation that took more than eight hours before the Supreme State Security Prosecution before a decision was issued to release her in return for bail of 5,000 pounds.