Egypt: Business tycoon ‘Safwan Thabet’ removed from terrorism list

Juhayna founder Safwan Thabet, who was released from two years of arbitrary detention last month along with his son, was finally removed from the state terrorist list.

A Cairo Criminal court has removed the name of renowned Egyptian businessman Safwan Thabet from the terrorism list following his release in mid-January.

Thabet, the chairman of the country’s biggest dairy and juice producer Juhayna Food Industries, and his son Seif El-Din were released mid-January after spending nearly two years in pretrial detention.

Thabet has been kept in pretrial detention since December 2020 in case 865/2020 for trumped up charges. Seif El-Din, deputy chairman of Juhayna, was then arrested in the same case in February 2021.

Thabet, who is an engineer and served as the chairman of the Chamber of Food Industries at Federation of Egyptian Industries, was added to the terrorism list in April 2018 for a five-year term, a decision that was scheduled to expire in April 2023.

A criminal court added Thabet, an engineer who served as the chairman of the Chamber of Food Industries at Federation of Egyptian Industries, to the terrorist list in 2017 without due process for a five-year term, putting him under a travel ban and asset freeze. He and his son, Seif Thabet, were then arrested in December 2020 and February 2021, respectively, for refusing to give up their family’s shares in dairy and juice giant Juhayna to the state.

Under an infamous “anti-terror” law, which has been in effect since 2015, a person on the terror list is banned from travel and is liable to have their assets frozen. The regime’s decision to add Thabet to the terrorist list decision that was scheduled to expire in April 2023.

However, “This is yet another positive step to clear Safwan and Seif Thabet of any wrongdoing and ensure they are restored to their full rights,” the Twitter account set up to call for their freedom said.

Meanwhile, several journalists called for the release of journalist Manal Ajrama after her father died while she remained unjustly behind bars. Ajrama was arrested in November for criticizing government policies on her personal Facebook page

Manal Ajrama, deputy editor of the state-run Radio and Television Magazine and a member of the Egyptian Journalists’ Syndicate, was jailed for 15 days on November 3 for criticizing Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on her social media.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) strongly condemned her arrest and the campaign of mass arrests launched by the Egyptian authorities to silence journalists and activists ahead of the COP27 climate summit.

Security forces arrested 61-year-old Ajrama, on November 1 at her home in Cairo, after she criticized Sisi on her social media account. On November 3, she was sentenced to 15 days in jail and transferred to Al-Qanater prison, where several female journalists and activists are held.

Ahead of the United Nations COP27 climate summit in Egypt, there were several global actions organized to demand the release of all imprisoned journalists and activists, including a call for a demonstration on November 11 against Al-Sisi’s oppressive rule.

In response, the government then launched a campaign of mass arrests to prevent any demonstrations coinciding with the climate conference.

At least 25 journalists and media workers are imprisoned in Egypt for simply carrying out their professional duties, according to IFJ statistics.

“The detention of journalists is part of a pattern of arbitrary arrests of Egyptian journalists, activists and academics aimed at shutting down any criticism of the government”, declared IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger.

“Although Egypt is the venue of this year’s COP27, a just transition cannot be achieved without freedom of expression. We urge the Egyptian authorities to stop targeting media workers and release all arrested journalists without delay,” he said.