Senior Brotherhood Leader ‘Essam El-Erian’ Dies in Sisi’s Notorious Aqrab Prison

The 66-year-old anti-Sisi Egyptian politician had been barred from receiving visitors for the past six months, according to his lawyer

Dr. Essam el-Erian, a senior leader in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and former Member of Parliament, died on Thursday in Cairo’s notorious Aqrab (Scorpion), a maximum-security prison, one of Tora prison complex, local media reported citing sources.

Essam Mohammed Hussein El Erian (1954) was an Egyptian physician and politician. He was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Council; and served as vice chair of the Freedom and Justice Party.

El-Erian, 66, had not been allowed visits for the past six months in Sisi’s notorious high-security prison due to the coronavirus lockdown, his lawyer said.

El-Erian graduated from the School of Medicine, Cairo University, in 1977 and received a Bachelor of Law from the same university in 1992. He obtained a Master’s degree in Pathology in 1986 from Cairo University. He also obtained a BA in Islamic Studies and History from Al Azhar University in 1999.

He served as a member of parliament after the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

El-Erian and other Brotherhood leaders were arrested following the 2013 military coup led by the then-defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is in power now . The coup ousted Sisi’s democratically elected predecessor late president Mohamed Morsi.

El-Erian had written extensively on Egyptian politics as well as Islamic and Arab affairs. He wasa founding member of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and an associate member of the Arab Organization for Human Rights.

El-Erian was arrested the first time for a period of one year, just before the assassination of the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat from September of 1981 until August 1982.

In 1995, El Erian was sentenced to five years with hard labour by a military court for his membership of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In May 2006, he was detained and held in custody for seven months for supporting judges’ protests.

In July 2007 he was again arrested and held in detention until October of that year.

Dr. El-Erian was arrested in January 2011 shortly before the overthrow of the former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

He was again arrested on 30 October 2013.

Egypt’s prison authorities have not yet officially confirmed the death.

President Mohamed Morsi himself died in custody last year at the age of 67, due to what UN experts and human rights groups said was deliberate medical negligence by authorities.

Since reaching power in 2014, Sisi has led a relentless crackdown against his opponents from across the political spectrum.

Dr. Essam El-Erian was among those sentenced to life imprisonment following the coup. The trials of El-Erian and other Brotherhood leaders have been condemned by rights groups as politically motivated.