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Head of rights group called for interrogation by Egypt prosecutors

Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Hossam Bahgat in Cairo on 20 April 2016 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images]
Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Hossam Bahgat in Cairo on 20 April 2016 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/Getty Images]

Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Hossam Bahgat, has been called in for interrogation before Egypt's public prosecution today over charges related to free expression.

Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into Bahgat over a 2020 tweet in which he criticised the head of the National Election Authority (NEA) as reports surfaced of electoral fraud.

In the tweet Bahgat criticised the former head of the NEA for his handling of the fraudulent legislative elections that same year.

The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy is calling for the case against Bahgat to be closed immediately.

This is the third criminal investigation against Bahgat stemming from his human rights activism and investigative journalism.

He was previously included in the foreign funding case and accused of "military misdemeanour" after he investigated military prosecutions.

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Last November, three senior EIPR executives were arrested after they met foreign diplomats to discuss the human rights crisis in Egypt.

Karim Ennarah, Mohammed Basheer and Gasser Abdel-Razek were later released following international outrage, including an appeal from Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson.

However, after they were released, a terror court froze their assets and a state-run newspaper threatened EIPR founder, Hossam Bahgat.

"It is not unlikely for Hossam to suddenly vanish," wrote former editor Khaled Imam in the publication which has ties to National Security.

"His followers would claim he was forcibly disappeared or detained. But if he does suddenly disappear then most certainly, he will have joined a terror group abroad."

Former EIPR researcher Patrick George Zaki remains in jail where he has been on pretrial detention since February 2020.

Zaki was arrested at Cairo airport on his way into the country, blindfolded, taken to an unknown location, beaten and tortured with electric shocks, according to his lawyer Wael Ghally.

Tens of thousands of activists, politicians and journalists have been arrested and detained since the 2013 coup.

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