Human Rights Watch has said that the detention of Ola Al-Qaradawi is “unlawful” and called for her immediate release.
Ola was arrested in June 2017 along with her husband Hosam Khalaf and accused of being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ola was kept in solitary confinement in pre-trial detention for two years before a judge ordered that she be released on 3 July on probation.
Under Egyptian law prisoners can be kept in pre-trial detention for a maximum of two years, but if a judge orders their release prosecutors have 24 hours to appeal the ruling.
During this time period, a State Security prosecutor reviewed Ola’s case and accused her of “using her relationships in prison” to support a terrorist group and sent her back to solitary confinement.
“Egypt’s prosecutors have made a mockery of the law, creating fantastic new charges of Al-Qaradawi’s terrorist activities in prison, just to keep her imprisoned,” said Middle East and North African director of Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson.
“The renewed detention of Al-Qaradawi, apparently for no reason other than the fact that she is the daughter of Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, demonstrates how the Egyptian authorities shamelessly use the judicial system as a tool of oppression.”
Ola’s arrest is considered to be part of a wider geopolitical struggle between Qatar – Ola is a Qatari citizen – and Egypt, which along with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain have imposed a blockade on the Gulf country.
One of the demands for the blockade to be lifted is for Qatar to extradite Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, Ola’s father who has been cast as an opponent to the current regime, back to Egypt.
Ola has never received a visitor in the whole time she has been incarcerated and has been denied medical attention. In response to the new charges, she has begun an open-ended hunger strike until she is released unconditionally.
“Anyone who cites Egypt as a country governed by the rule of law is choosing to ignore the despicable records of its use as a mere political cudgel,” said Whitson.