Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson has called on the Egyptian authorities to release three senior staff members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
Executive Director Jasser Abdel-Razek, Administrative Director Mohamed Bashir and Director of the Criminal Justice Unit Karim Ennarah were detained in early November following a meeting with European ambassadors to discuss the human rights situation in Egypt.
They have been accused of “joining a terror group” and “spreading false news” and held in pretrial detention. Abdel-Razek is being kept in solitary confinement.
One of EIPR’s researchers, Patrick George Zaki, has been detained since the beginning of the year.
“Speaking out loud has become dangerous today in Egypt,” said Johansson in a video published on EIPR’s YouTube page.
“I want to point out the plight of four people who were unjustly arrested for defending the dignity of people, Jasser, Muhammad and Patrick, who work for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.”
“These men spent their lives fighting injustice and now they are imprisoned behind bars. All of them are facing enough false charges to put them in prison for years. The truth is that their only crime is standing up to defend the dignity of Egyptians.”
EIPR documents the systematic violations carried out by the Egyptian regime. In November it published a report about the alarming rise in executions in the country.
There has been international support for the three detained staff members. At the end of November, 37 members of the US congress called on Egypt to release them, end arrests against members of the opposition and halt the smear campaigns conducted against rights advocates and organisations.
Amnesty has expressed solidarity and renewed a call on Egyptian authorities to immediately release them; former UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has condemned their arrest, as has the French foreign ministry, the Irish, Italian and German ambassadors, and the British foreign minister.