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Newlywed appeals for release of husband detained in Egypt

Written by on 22/11/2020

The British wife of an detained Egyptian human rights activist has said she is hopeful that international pressure might hasten his release.

Jessica Kelly’s husband Karim Ennarah, criminal justice unit director at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), was arrested in Cairo last week.

Along with colleagues Gasser Abdelrazek and Mohamed Basheer, he was taken by security forces to an undisclosed location.

According to Amnesty International, Mr Abdelrazek and Mr Ennarah are being held on charges of “joining a terrorist group”, in addition to “spreading false news” and “misusing social media”. Mr Basheer was questioned about “committing a crime of funding terrorism” in addition to the other three charges.

Mrs Kelly told Sky News that her husband was due for a court hearing on Monday.

She said: “I’ve heard from the people on the ground that it is unprecedented for them to bring the hearing forward like this, so we’re very hopeful that this might be a good sign and that perhaps international pressure and the petition may have been having an effect.”

Egyptian human rights activist Karim Ennarah and his British wife Jessica Kelly.
Image: Egyptian human rights activist Karim Ennarah and his British wife Jessica Kelly

Almost 60,000 people have signed the petition, which calls for the UK government to intervene in the case.

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She said she hoped the media and diplomats from other countries, including the UK, will “be present and will be sending a message that this is not acceptable and they are watching.”

Ms Kelly, who had been married to Mr Ennarah for just two months before his arrest, said: “There have been recent amendments of the anti-terror law that basically expand the definition of terrorism to encompass anything that the regime is not happy with.

“Human rights is definitely something they have been clamping down on in the past few years.”

She added: “EIPR is one of the last remaining human rights organisations in Egypt – if they are not working then really there’s no accountability for human rights in Egypt.”

Amnesty said that diplomats from countries including Germany, France, and the UK attended a meeting in Cairo about the situation in recent days.

Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa director, said: “There is a need for urgent, coordinated and public action, backed by strong measures, to call on Egyptian authorities to end the crackdown and release all those detained. Failure to act threatens the very survival of the human rights community in Egypt.”

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab has reportedly raised the issue with Egypt’s foreign minister.

Ms Kelly told Sky News that she has not been able to speak with her husband since his arrest on Friday.

She said: “Sadly the conditions of his arrest…is that they are taken by state security and they don’t have any right to a phone call.

“They can be – and I hope and pray this doesn’t happen – but they could be kept in pre-trial detention for two years legally.

“The only people they’ve been able to speak to is their lawyers and they should have a chance to see them again tomorrow at the hearing.”

 Sky News

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