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200 artists sign statement calling for release of Egypt political prisoner Sanaa Seif

Actress Sanaa Seif during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at Yarrow Hotel Theater on January 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah [Natalie Cass/Getty Images]
Actress Sanaa Seif during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at Yarrow Hotel Theater on January 18, 2013 in Park City, Utah [Natalie Cass/Getty Images]

More than 200 actors, artists, and authors have signed a statement calling on Egyptian authorities to release the detained film editor, writer, and activist Sanaa Seif, who was arrested in June.

Seif worked on the Oscar-nominated documentary ‘The Square’ and the award-winning ‘In the last days of the city’.

Judi Dench, Juliette Binoche, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arundhati Roy, JM Coetzee, and Noam Chomsky are among the signatories.

On 21 June Sanaa, along with her sister Mona and mother Laila Soueif, slept outside the prison where her brother, the prominent political activist Alaa Abdel Fattah is being held, in an attempt to persuade authorities to deliver a letter to him.

Alaa was arrested last September as part of a sweep of activists and former prisoners at the time who were being rounded up after Mohamed Ali’s calls to protest and has been held in pretrial detention since then.

His family has not been allowed to visit him since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

On 22 June a group of female Baltagiya – government thugs – attacked Sanaa and her family in front of the prison and stole their possessions. Sanaa was abducted in a white van outside the attorney general’s office the next day when she went to file a complaint.

She was detained while being investigated for “spreading false news”, “inciting terrorist crimes” and “misuse of social media.”

Sanaa is one of some 60,000 Egyptian political prisoners being held in Egypt’s prison on trumped up charges.

READ: Egypt activists blame Sisi for failure in dam negotiations

For prisoners, international pressure can be key in whether or not they are released or whether they enter the “revolving door” system, constantly being added to new cases as a way to keep them incarcerated.

“The solidarity of the international community is needed now more than ever at this time of unprecedented breakdown of accountability,” reads the statement.

“Together, we call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Sanaa, Alaa, and all those detained for peacefully exercising their rights.”

“We call on the Egyptian government to end the abuse of pretrial detention.”

“And we call for a global assertion of the rights of all people to live in dignity and justice.”

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