Egypt: 3 very sick journalists denied due medical care in prison, says RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has issued an alert about three journalists held in Egypt’s prisons who are denied proper medical attention for serious ailments they suffer from.

The RSF organization says they must be released so that they can receive the medical care they urgently need.The Egyptian authorities have so far ignored the desperate requests for their release that have been filed by their families.

RSF has learned that Hisham Abdel Aziz, an Al Jazeera producer detained since June 2019, has serious vision problems.

Prior to his arrest, he was suffering from glaucoma in both eyes, partial optic nerve atrophy and ocular hypertension, and had two operations to his right eye during an annual leave visit to Egypt from Qatar.

Now, without appropriate treatment, his cornea could become opaque, resulting in a loss of vision.

Amer Abdel Moneim, a journalist and writer who has been imprisoned since December 2020 and who has been diabetic for years, is being denied hygiene products including the sanitizer he needs for his insulin injector pens, according to the Egyptian Network for Human Rights.

Also, the health of Alia Awad, a photojournalist jailed since October 2017, is extremely worrying. After being diagnosed with uterine tumors, she was taken to a hospital in June 2018 and underwent an operation, but the authorities refused to release her.

Since then, her health has not improved and she is still suffering from bleeding.

“We call on the authorities to display some humanity by releasing these journalists, whose state of health is incompatible with imprisonment,” said Sabrina Bennoui, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk.

“If the judicial system refuses to recognize the arbitrary nature of their detention, it should at least allow them to receive proper medical care.”

The health of Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mohamed Oxygen, two bloggers in preventive detention since September 2019, is also alarming.

On 19 October, their case was referred to the Emergency State Security Court, a special tribunal whose verdicts cannot be appealed and can only be overturned by Egypt’s president. 

As a result of this referral, the proceedings could last many more weeks although the judicial harassment to which they are being subjected has already taken a heavy toll on their mental health.

Oxygen tried to commit suicide  in August, while Fattah told his lawyer last month that he doubted that he would be able to bear the prison conditions much longer.

Egypt is ranked 161st out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index.