Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called [HRW report] on the Egyptian government Wednesday to immediately identify the whereabouts of and free Ezzat Ghoneim, a prominent human rights lawyer who has been missing for approximately three weeks.
Ghoneim was arrested earlier this year on his way home from work. His whereabouts were not known for three days until a group of lawyers were granted access to him in a prosecutor’s office in Cairo. These lawyers learned that, during the time he was missing, he was being interrogated by Egyptian police officers. He was questioned as a defendant in a state security case [HRW backgrounder] in which he, an online blogger, three journalists and a student were accused of spreading fake news and “supporting a terrorist group.” Following these interrogations, Ghoneim continued to be detained.
On September 4 an Egyptian judge reviewed Ghoneim’s detention and ordered his release conditioned on his reporting to a police station every two weeks. However, according to his wife, Egyptian police forces refused to release him, citing the need for further instruction for the Egyptian National Security Agency. His wife again reported to the police station where he was being held on September 13 when she was informed that he had already been released. She claims that neither she nor any of their friends have seen him since his supposed release.
HRW is now asserting that Ghoneim has been forcefully disappeared by the Egyptian government. The organization states that the Egyptian government’s conduct in light of a judge’s order for his release is indicative of their “contempt for the rule of law.”
The Egyptian government has yet to respond to the numerous requests for comment on Ghoneim’s current location.