Academics, parliamentarians, and activists from 80 countries call for releasing political prisoners in Egypt

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On Thursday, more than 321 organizations, 1,079 academics, parliamentarians, and activists from 80 countries signed a petition calling for the release of political prisoners in Egypt, coinciding with the COP27 climate conference. They demanded the immediate and unconditional release of all detainees in Egypt. They also demanded the lifting of the blocking of websites, an end to restrictions on the media, the release of detained journalists, and free working space for civil society.

Al-Monitor said that more than 50 Democratic lawmakers have written to President Joe Biden asking that he push the Egyptian government to release political prisoners and allow the full participation of civil society in the annual summit. Al-Monitor obtained the letter, led by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Reps. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) and Bill Keating (D-Mass.) cite Egypt’s jailing of political prisoners, including many environmental activists. “With the world’s attention on Sharm el-Sheikh this month, COP27 presents a unique opportunity for the United States to press the Egyptian government to release these activists and demonstrate its commitment to inclusive engagement with the full range of stakeholders on climate solutions,” reads the letter signed by 56 House and Senate lawmakers. “Widespread arbitrary detentions, restrictions on members of the media and nongovernmental organizations, and the crackdown on the government’s political opponents cannot be ignored while Egypt enjoys a spotlight on the world stage,” they add.

The congressional letter calls on the Biden administration to push Egypt to allow government critics “access to engage and express their positions freely at COP27” and notes that this “simply cannot occur with the unprecedented detention of leading environmental activists and prominent political prisoners.”

The lawmakers urged US officials to push for the “immediate and unconditional release” of those jailed for exercising free speech and specifically raise the cases of activists Alaa Abdel Fattah and Ahmed Douma, human rights lawyer Mohamed el Baqer, blogger Mohamed “Oxygen” Ibrahim, former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Seif and Safwan Thabet, and environmentalist Ahmed Amasha. According to Al-Monitor, in their letter, the lawmakers describe “respect for human rights and civil society [as] a core dimension of both US national security interests and our collective ambitions toward climate action.”