Rights group urges Egypt to free detained mother of inmate

A picture taken during a guided tour organised by Egypt's State Information Service on February 11, 2020,shows a partial view of the Tora prison on the southern outskirts of the Egyptian capital Cairo [Khaled Desouki/AFP] (AFP)

A leading international rights group is urging Egyptian authorities to release a woman who was arrested apparently over publishing a letter from her imprisoned son in which he claims he was tortured and sexually assaulted behind bars.

Police last month raided the Cairo home of Hoda Abdel Hamid and detained her along with her husband and daughter.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Tuesday that the arrest followed Abdel Hamid’s posting on Facebook her son’s account in which he describes being tied up by another inmate with the assistance of prison guards, stripped of his clothes and sexually assaulted.

Her son, Abdelrahman al-Showeikh, 29, passed the letter to her when she recently visited him in prison. He has been detained in a maximum-security prison in the southern province of Minya for the last 15 months.

“Instead of investigating Hoda Abdel Hamid’s report that her son had faced horrific torture and sexual assault in prison, Egyptian authorities are persecuting the messenger,” said Joe Stork, the New York-based group’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director, adding the case “strongly underscores the abysmal state of Egypt’s so-called justice system”.

‘Crackdown on dissent’

Since the arrests were made, Abdel Hamid’s husband and daughter have been released but she remains in custody, HRW said, adding that the group has written to the government inquiring about the incident but has so far not received an answer.

There was no immediate comment from the authorities.

Since the military’s 2013 overthrow of elected President Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian authorities have launched a wide crackdown on dissent.

Thousands have been jailed including secular activists and pro-democracy advocates. Tight control of the media has also been imposed and freedoms won in a 2011 uprising have been rolled back.

Source: AP