Egypt: Young man disappeared and then detained for taking photos of Sisi’s new palace

20-year-old Karim Safwat was forcibly disappeared and then detained on terrorism charges for taking a picture of the presidential palace in the new administrative capital

On September 19, prosecutors ordered 20-year-old Karim Safwat detained on terrorism charges for taking a picture in the garden of the presidential palace in the new administrative capital.

The Rassd News Network tweeted, saying: Arrest of a young man working in the administrative capital and accusing him of terrorism for filming the Sisi Palace!

Safwat was helping his brother with landscaping work in the presidential palace garden in early September, the brother told Mada Masr, when he took a picture of the palace under construction.

Security forces immediately arrested him and detained him in a security room in the palace, informing his brother that they would release him after a visit to the area from President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi two days later.

Instead, Safwat was then forcibly disappeared for two weeks, with his brother only learning of his fate following a Facebook post from lawyer Khaled al-Masry about Safwat’s appearance before the Supreme State Security Prosecution.

Madera, a Twitter user, tweeted saying: “In Egypt, you get arrested on terrorism charges for taking a photo of one of his majesty Sisi palace gardens!

According to Khaled al-Masry, Safwat was charged with “joining a terrorist group” for taking a photo of the palace and a short video clip in which he says only, “This is the president’s palace.”

He was also charged with “spreading fake news” and “misusing social media” despite not sharing any of it on social media.

According to Safwat’s brother, security forces also arrested a teenaged worker for taking a picture of the palace following a search of Safwat’s phone.

Most recently, Amnesty International has accused Egypt of attempting to cover up a decade of “unrelenting violations of human rights” in order to improve its international standing ahead of hosting the world climate summit.

Amnesty International’s analysis of the human rights situation in Egypt reveals that the National Human Rights Strategy paints a deeply misleading picture of the human rights situation in Egypt

Egypt’s human rights record has come under intensified scrutiny ahead of the November global COP27 summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Dozens of international rights groups have called on Egypt to end its crackdown on civil society and protect freedom of expression.

Egypt’s human rights crisis has only deepened during the year since the regime launched a National Strategy for Human Rights, with violations continuing unabated in the lead-up to COP27, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

Amnesty’s new report shows that one year on, Egypt’s National Strategy for Human Rights remains little more than “a Public Relations stunt”, with the recent re-arrest of activist Sharif Al-Rouby only the latest evidence. And perhaps the arrest of Karim Safwat is a most recent evidence of repression and trumped up or bogus charges.

Amnesty International’s new report is based on extensive documentation of patterns of human rights violations committed in Egypt since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power, as well as information gathered since the launch of the National Human Rights Strategy (NHRS) from multiple sources, including victims, witnesses, human rights defenders and lawyers.

Egypt is set to host the UN Climate Change Conference, COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh in November. Environmental and human rights groups have raised concerns about limiting protests to “designated areas” and the ability of the Egyptian civil society to meaningfully participate without fear of reprisals.