Egypt drops charges against human rights groups, releases activists and YouTube star
Egypt on Monday announced it had dropped charges against four human rights groups accused of illegally receiving foreign funds and using them to harm national security, including the United Group, the Egyptian Democratic Institute, the Egyptian Society for Upgrading Societal Participation and Lawyers for Justice and Peace.
The court’s ruling also lifts asset freezes and travel bans on staff of the four NGOs, including el-Borai, lawyer Azza Soliman and activist Esraa Abdel-Fattah.
Egypt also released Youtuber Shadi Srour, journalist Shaimaa Sami and activist Ziyad Abul-Fadel from a Cairo police station on Sunday, according to two lawyers, Khalid Ali and Ismael el-Rashedi.
This comes in light of a series of events that saw the release of political prisoners and rights defenders such as human rights lawyer and activist Mahienour El Massry and journalists Mostafa Al Asar, Moataz Wadnan and Esraa Abdelfattah. released from prison on July 18.
The three were charged with “participation in a terrorist group and publishing fake news on social media.”
Youtuber and comedian Shadi Srour initially gained popularity on YouTube for his satirical videos. He caused controversy on social media in February 2019 after announcing in a Facebook post that he was leaving Islam and identifying himself as an atheist.
Following a call for demonstrations by regime critic and fugitive journalist Moataz Matar on Turkey-based al-Sharq TV Channel. Police arrested Srour and several others in March 2019. Srour also posted a video titled “Enough el-Sissi” approving calls by self-exiled Egyptian businessman Mohamed Ali for people to protest against the president.
Ziyad Aboul Fadl, who is also a member of the left-wing Bread and Freedom Party, was arrested in March 2019 on charges of membership in a terrorist group, abusing social media and spreading fake news.
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