On 15th July 2022, the Egyptian Front for Human Rights (EFHR) sent a letter to two German Bundestag members to request urgent intervention to induce the Egyptian Government to release the political and environmental activist and expert Dr. Ahmed Al-Kholy.
Dear Distinguished Members of the German Bundestag, Ms. Kathrin Henneberger and Mr. Tobias Bacherle,
We, the Egyptian Front For Human Rights (EFHR), write this letter to request your support and urgent intervention to induce the Egyptian Government to release the political and environmental activist and expert, Dr. Ahmed Abdullatif Ahmed Al-Kholy, who was arbitrarily arrested on 24 September 2019 solely due to a statement issued by the Independence Party (of which he is one of its leaders) regarding supporting the mass peaceful Egyptian demonstrations of September 2019 that called for Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to be removed from power. The Egyptian authorities responded to these demonstrations with tear gas, rubber bullets and by arbitrarily arresting over 4300 people. These mass arbitrary arrests targeting civilians, human rights lawyers and political party members who were exercising their right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression have been condemned by the European Parliament in its urgent resolution at its plenary session in October 2019. During the same month, the UN Human Rights Office urged as well the Egyptian authorities to release detained people in relation to these protests.
Background information about Dr. Al-Kholy and conditions of his arrest:
Dr. Ahmed Abdullatif Ahmed Al-Kholy is a 68-years-old Egyptian citizen, born on 5 August 1954. He used to be a professor at the Environmental Planning Department at Cairo University, the Vice President of Desert Research Center, and he was one of the Independence Party’s leaders.
On 24 September 2019, at midnight, several National Security Agents – in plainclothes – raided Dr. Al-Kholy’s place of residence in Al-Haram district, Giza Governorate without showing an arrest warrant, then arrested and dragged him to the National Security Headquarters in Abbasya. Dr. Al-Kholy’s family sent official telegraphs to the Public Prosecutor and the Minister of Justice regarding his disappearance, but there was no response. He underwent enforced disappearance there for about ten days, during which he was questioned about his political activism in the Independence Party and the statement which was published on the Party’s Facebook page and website regarding encouraging citizens to participate in the peaceful demonstrations against the Egyptian regime.
Then, on 5 October 2019, Dr. Al-Kholy was brought before the State Security Prosecution and was accused under Case No. 1358/2019, known in media as the ‘’Independence Party Case’’ (which involves several Independence Party leaders) with a charge of ‘’leading a terrorist group’’ which is called ‘’Independence Party”. It is worth mentioning that the official arrest record was forged as it was dated 3 October 2019, not 24 September 2019, when Dr. Al-Kholy was actually arrested. However, the prosecution disregarded this violation.
The Case has not yet been referred to the court, and Dr. Al-Kholy is still in pre-trial detention in Tora Mazraa Prison for three years, although the maximum limit for pre-trial detention in Egyptian law is two years.
Dr. El-Kholy is an old man suffering from geriatric diseases, diabetes, and high blood pressure and although he periodically takes medication, we are concerned about a sudden deterioration of his health that could possibly lead to his death in prison. Therefore, the Egyptian Front for Human Rights calls on you to encourage your fellow members of the German Green Party and Members of the German Bundestag to urge the German Government, notably the German Foreign Affairs Minister, Annalena Baerbock and State Minister and Special Envoy, Jennifer Morgan who will co-chair with Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on 18-19 July 2022 the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, to induce and press the Egyptian Government to immediately release Dr. Al-Kholy.
While Egypt is preparing itself to host next November 2022 the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, announcing to arrange a designated area for protests at COP27, hundreds of thousands of political prisoners are imprisoned, and many of them are still in pre-trial detention including the environmental activist and expert, Dr. Al-Kholy who has been in prolonged pre-trial detention for almost three years simply for supporting the 2019 peaceful protests and demonstrations.
We finally would like to request your support in inducing the German Government to use its leverage of co-chairing the Petersberg Climate Dialogue with the Egyptian Government by pressuring the latter to immediately release all political prisoners and to meet all its obligations in respecting, guaranteeing, and protecting human rights and freedoms in all circumstances, and to put an end to the crackdown on peaceful dissent.
We thank you in advance for your consideration of this matter. We remain at your disposal for further clarifications or information.
Egyptian Front for Human Right
 In September 2019, demonstrations took place in different parts of Egypt. As a result, Egypt witnessed a large-scale crackdown carried out by the Egyptian Security Services against political activists and citizens – whether they joined the demonstrations or just supported the demonstrators on social media platforms. This crackdown involved randomly inspecting citizens and their mobile phones in the streets, arbitrarily arresting at least 2000 citizens and accusing them in State Security Cases.
 According to Egyptian civil society organisations such as Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, the Egyptian Commission for Eights and Freedoms, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, in addition to Belady Foundation and Amnesty International.
 The UN Human Rights Office stated that “people have a right to protest peacefully, and a right to express their opinions, including on social media. They should never be arrested or detained – let alone charged with serious offences such as terrorism – simply for exercising those rights.”
 In 2014, The Cairo Urgent Matters Court prohibited the activities of the Independence Party. This ruling was issued because a lawsuit was filed by Chancellor Amr Abdel Razek, former head of the State Security Court, contending that the party incites acts of violence and finances criminal groups to organize armed demonstrations to call for the return of former President Mohamed Morsy.
 State Security Prosecution (SSP) is a special branch of the Public Prosecution which has more powers when it comes to detaining suspects. In case of an indictment, defendants are necessarily referred to one of three categories of special courts: Emergency State Security Courts, terrorism circuits, or military courts.
 The Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry announced that “We are developing a facility adjacent to the conference centre that will provide them with the full opportunity of participation, of activism, of demonstration, of voicing that opinion”. This has been criticized by civil society organisations and activists for probably only authorizing pro-Egyptian Government protests.