Egypt: Calls for releasing Anas Beltagy and ending collective punishment of his family

DAWN has stated that the detention of Anas El-Beltagy after four acquittals shows abuse of power and collective punishment of the Beltagy Family

The Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) rights group has called for the release of the son of Dr. Mohamed El-Beltagy, a senior Muslim Brotherhood politician, describing Anas’s imprisonment despite four acquittals an abuse of power and collective punishment of the family.

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, in a report released two days ago for the first time, exhaustively detailing the gross injustice in Anas’ near decade-long persecution.

DAWN urged U.S. officials to 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.

“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.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of DAWN, on 21 June tweeted, saying, “Release Anas El-Beltagy, arbitrarily detained at 19, remains unjustly imprisoned more than eight years later”

Anas Beltagy was arrested on 31 December 2013 and taken to Nasr City police station where he was tortured. From here he was moved to Abu Zaabal Prison and held in solitary confinement and then moved on to Tora Prison, where he is incarcerated now.

At the time of his arrest Anas was preparing to take exams at Ain Shams University. He has since had six cases brought against him and been acquitted four times yet still hasn’t been released, details DAWN’s report.

One of the charges brought against Anas, which he was later acquitted of, is the “Marriott Terror Cell” case, a well-known case in 2014 which Al Jazeera journalists Peter Christie, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were accused of.

Defendants were accused of collaborating with the Muslim Brotherhood and taking part in protests against the army.

Throughout the course of his eight-and-a-half-year detention Anas has been jailed in inhuman conditions, deprived of visits, from completing his university degree, and held in pretrial detention.

He has been deprived of food and water, exercise, medical care, and guards have burned his clothes and blankets, according to his mother.

“This is a case of political persecution of a young man whose only crime appears to be belonging to a prominent political family,” said DAWN’s programme director John Hursh.

“The Egyptian government has cruelly punished Anas, stealing almost eight and a half years of his life, motivated only by political vengeance.”

Critics believe Egyptian authorities are punishing Beltagy and his family because as secretary general his father was a senior leader within the Muslim Brotherhood.

Mohamed Beltagi was arrested shortly after the Rabaa massacre and in 2018 was sentenced to death in a mass trial alongside 739 other people.

During the 2013 Rabaa protests Anas’ sister Asma was on her way to help at the field hospital when she was shot by a sniper and later died from her wounds.

Their mother lives in exile in Turkey with their brother Khaled who was also arrested in 2015 before eventually being freed.

On December 24, 2013, Anas, and his mother Sanaa Abdel-Gawad were beaten on a visit to see Mohamed Beltagy, after they asked prison guards why they were torturing him physically and psychologically.

Anas and his mother were later accused of assaulting the prison guards and eventually released on bail. Anas was rearrested one week later