Egyptian whilstleblower Mohamed Ali has told MEMO that building prisons in Egypt is a very lucrative business.
Since Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s rise to power in 2014 human rights activists estimate roughly 20 new prisons have been built in Egypt to house the increasing number of journalists, activists and politicians who have been arrested for opposing the regime.
There are 60,000 political detainees in Egypt, yet Al-Sisi denies they exist.
According to Ali, there are two types of prison in Egypt – military prisons and prisons built by the Ministry of Interior.
“If I wanted to be involved in constructing prisons, which is a very lucrative business, I would have worked with the Ministry of Interior since there are more civilian prisoners than military ones so they need to build more prisons.”
There are two companies responsible for building these prisons, one was called Al-Fath. This company works with the Ministry of Interior in a similar fashion to the contractors that work with the army, says Ali.
“The ministry established these companies to facilitate its projects. Through them the ministry would sub contract and force the contractors to pay an agreed amount [under the table].”
These companies were also responsible for the construction of the ministry’s clubs, schools and other projects. They were established by Major General Gehad Yousef, the former Interior Ministry’s assistant for financial administration.
Human Rights Watch has said that prisoners in Egypt are systematically tortured and denied adequate medical care.
In September Ali ignited outrage both inside and outside Egypt after he released a series of videos online detailing corruption within Sisi’s inner circle. He described how he had been contracted to build luxury palaces for the president and his wife whilst a series of austerity measures were being rolled out across the country.