Egypt frees activist Ramy Shaath after he abandons nationality
Shaath’s detention came amid a continuing crackdown on political dissent under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Egyptian authorities have freed Egyptian-Palestinian rights activist Ramy Shaath from more than 900 days of detention after forcing him to renounce his Egyptian nationality.
A family statement said on Saturday that Shaath – a member of several secular political groups in Egypt and a co-founder of Egypt’s pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement – was released on Thursday evening and handed to a representative of the Palestinian Authority in Cairo before being flown to Jordan.
He is now on his way to France, it added.
Shaath’s French wife Celine Lebrun Shaath, who was deported from Egypt following his arrest, had lobbied the French government to pressure Egypt to release him.
There was no immediate comment from Egyptian authorities on his release.
“If we are glad that the Egyptian authorities heard our call for freedom, we regret that they forced Ramy to renounce his Egyptian citizenship as a precondition for his release that should have been unconditional,” the family statement said.
Shaath was arrested in Egypt in June 2019 and held in pre-trial detention alongside other activists on accusations of aiding a “terrorist” group.
His detention came amid a continuing crackdown on political dissent under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that has swept up liberal critics as well as the Muslim Brotherhood members whose removal el-Sisi led in 2013.
El-Sisi and his supporters have said there are no political prisoners in Egypt, and security measures were necessary to stabilise the country after a 2011 uprising.
In a statement last month, several NGOs questioned President Emmanuel Macron on the fate of Shaath, a year after the French leader said he had brought up his case with el-Sisi.
However, at the time Macron made it clear that human rights would not be a condition for economic and military ties with Cairo.
France said in May it would deliver 30 Rafale warplanes to Egypt from 2024 in a 4 billion euro ($4.8bn) deal as it strengthened its military partnership with Cairo.