Detention of Anas El-Beltagy after Four Acquittals Shows Abuse of Power and Collective Punishment of Beltagy Family
(Washington D.C., June 20, 2022) – Egyptian authorities should immediately release Anas El-Beltagy and hold accountable all Egyptian officials involved in his prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, and unjust imprisonment, said Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), in a report released today for the first time exhaustively detailing the gross injustice in Anas' near decade-long persecution.
U.S. officials should impose Global Magnitsky sanctions on the Egyptian prosecutors and judges who disregarded Egyptian law, prosecuted Beltagy on baseless charges, and arbitrarily imprisoned him, including Khaled Diaa el-Din, Ahmed Shorb, Amr Sha'aban, Judge Salah Mahgoub, Judge Hassan Farid, and Judge Mohamed Saeed El-Sherbiny, said DAWN.
"Almost eight and a half years since arresting Anas as a young student, the Egyptian government has yet to present any credible evidence to substantiate the charges against him because the charges are baseless, because there is no evidence against him, and because this is merely a case of political punishment against his family," said John Hursh, Program Director for DAWN. "At the very least, the Egyptian government should include Anas on any forthcoming list of presidential pardons or detainee releases."
"Almost eight and a half years since arresting Anas as a young student, the Egyptian government has yet to present any credible evidence to substantiate the charges against him because the charges are baseless, because there is no evidence against him, and because this is merely a case of political punishment against his family."
- John hursh, DAWN's Program Director
Anas Mohamed El-Beltagy, the son of prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader and former parliamentarian Mohamed El-Beltagy, was a 19-year-old student at Ain Shams University preparing to take his semester exams when security forces arrested him in Nasr City on December 31, 2013, along with two of his friends.
Since his arrest, now almost eight and a half years ago, the Egyptian government has brought six cases against El-Beltagy, acquitted him in four cases on appeal, sentenced him to a year imprisonment in a case he knew nothing about, and brought spurious charges in the two outstanding cases against him by refurbishing past charges, all with the singular purpose of keeping him imprisoned indefinitely through pretrial detention.
During most of these eight and a half years, the Egyptian government has kept Anas jailed in maximum security prisons, often in inhuman conditions, subjected him to torture, held him in solitary confinement, deprived him of visits with his family and lawyer, and deprived him of an opportunity to complete his college education, as encouraged by Egyptian law. The charges against Anas overwhelmingly relate to accusations of political crimes, pursuant to baseless cases brought against him by the Public Prosecution.
"Of all the examples of the government's abuse of the country's pretrial detention law, a law the government uses primarily to deny Egyptians their freedom after failing to bring a case against them, Anas' case is perhaps the most egregious."
- John hursh, DAWN's program director
There is no credible evidence that Anas has committed any crime. Instead, the persecution of Anas appears entirely politically motivated due to his family affiliation as the son of Mohamed El-Beltagy, a prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader also detained since 2013. Security forces also killed Anas' sister, Asmaa El-Beltagy, during the massacre at the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in in 2013, where Egyptian security forces killed more than 1,050 people.
"This is a case of political persecution of a young man whose only crime appears to be belonging to a prominent political family," said Hursh. "The Egyptian government has cruelly punished Anas, stealing almost eight and a half years of his life, motivated only by political vengeance."
DAWN's report presents the first complete investigation of how Egyptian prosecutors and judges have kept Anas imprisoned for eight and a half years on baseless charges. Over the course of its investigation, DAWN interviewed three sources on multiple occasions to research this case, including Anas' mother, Sanaa Abdel-Gawad, whom the Egyptian government also arrested and imprisoned, and collected a comprehensive record of the sham proceedings against him. DAWN also relied on publicly available information and documented the role of several Egyptian prosecutors and judges that ignored their legal duties under Egyptian law and allowed El-Beltagy to remain imprisoned by abusing the country's pretrial detention law.
"Of all the examples of the government's abuse of the country's pretrial detention law, a law the government uses primarily to deny Egyptians their freedom after failing to bring a case against them, Anas' case is perhaps the most egregious." said Hursh.