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Egypt official calls for closure of prisoners of conscience file

Moushira Khattab [UNESCO/Christelle ALIX/Flickr]
Moushira Khattab [UNESCO/Christelle ALIX/Flickr]

President of Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), Ambassador Moushira Khattab has called for the need to intensify efforts to close the file of prisoners of conscience "once and for all."

In an interview with Al-Jazeera Mubasher, Khattab commented on the Egyptian authorities' release of renowned businessman Safwan Thabet and his son Saif and described it as a step in the right direction, calling to release more people who meet the amnesty conditions.

Khattab supported the civil democratic movement parties' demands to close the file of prisoners of conscience permanently, adding "We must put the file of detainees behind us."

Asked about the fate of the remaining detainees, the Egyptian official said she hoped they would be released soon, adding that she does not know exactly when any of the detainees will be released, and that her job is limited to recommending the names of those who should be released.

On Saturday, the Egyptian authorities released Safwan Thabet and his son Saif, who had been arrested on charges of financing "terrorism."

The Egyptian authorities arrested Safwan Thabet, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Juhayna Food Industries, in late 2020, while his son Saif was arrested weeks later. They were charged with joining the banned Muslim Brotherhood, providing it with funds, and "assaulting the armed forces and police, their installations and public facilities, and harming the country's national economy."

READ: Owner of Egypt dairy giant and son released from prison

The Egyptian businessman Thabet and his son were subjected to solitary confinement, in conditions amounting to torture, according to human rights organisations.

In January 2017, an Egyptian court added Thabet along with about 1,500 others to the "terror list" without observing due legal procedures.

In July 2018, the Court of Cassation overturned the order, but another court decided to reinstate his name in the list, and the Court of Cassation upheld the decision in March 2021.

Amnesty International has accused the Egyptian authorities of abusing anti-terrorism laws by arbitrarily detaining Thabet and his son Saif, "in retaliation for the prominent businessman's refusal to hand over the assets of his company."

Juhayna is one of the major food and dairy production companies in Egypt, with exports to most regions of the Middle East, America and the European Union.

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