Human rights lawyer ‘disappeared’ in Egypt

Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Egyptian government Oct. 3 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 on March 1 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 law enforcement officers. He was questioned as a defendant in a state security case in which he, a popular blogger, three journalists and a student were accused of spreading false news and "supporting a terrorist group." Following these interrogations, Ghoneim continued to be detained. On Sept. 4 a 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, police refused to release him, citing the need for further "instructions from the National Security Agency." His wife again reported to the police station where he was being held on Sept. 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 forcibly 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 "contempt for the rule of law." The government has yet to respond to numerous requests for comment on Ghoneim's current location.

From Jurist, Oct. 4. Used with permission.

Note: The blogger arrested in the case, Wael Abbas, appears to have actually been charged for documenting police brutality at protest demonstrations.

Photo via Jurist