Egypt: Tantawi Arrested in Court to Serve a Prison Sentence for Challenging President Sisi in 2023 Elections

On 27 May, an Egyptian Court of Appeals upheld a February 2024 sentence issued by the Matareya Misdemeanors Court against Ahmed al-Tantawi and 22 of his supporters to one year in prison. The Court of Appeals verdict also upholds a five-year ban on Tantawi from running in elections. Tantawi was arrested in court to serve the sentence.

As Egypt faces gross mismanagement of its economy and the authorities’ inability to fulfill basic functions such provision of health services or a steady supply of electricity, Egyptian authorities regularly ensure that no political alternative can organize, develop, and present a challenge to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rule.

The decision to uphold the sentence further confirms the warnings repeatedly voiced by our organizations that Egyptian authorities’ promises of political reform are insincere and only seek to placate criticism of their human rights record. Political activity remains effectively outlawed.

In February 2024, under Case no. 16336, Tantawi and his campaign manager Mohamed Abo al-Diyar were convicted of inciting others to influence the conduct of the electoral process through the provision, printing, and circulation of electoral process papers without the permission of competent authorities. The 21 other members of Tantawi’s campaign were convicted of printing and circulating electoral papers without permission.

The case was opened in reaction to Tantawi’s call in October 2023 for his supporters to fill out popular endorsement forms for his presidential bid, given the restrictions they faced in registering their endorsements at public notary offices, thereby illegally barring him from running.  In a violation of the right of Tantawi and members of his campaign to a fair trial, authorities did not allow their lawyers to obtain the official case files.

Over the course of his presidential campaign and the months that followed, over 194 Tantawi supporters and members of his campaign were detained by Egyptian authorities, and some faced unfounded terrorism charges.

The court’s decision confirms that any independent attempt to challenge President Sisi’s hold on power will be met with decisive retaliation. Tantawi joins a list of other former presidential candidates who were imprisoned or put under house arrest for challenging Sisi in the 2018 elections.

Signatory Organizations

  • Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies
  • Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression
  • Committee for Justice
  • El Nadeem Center
  • Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  • Egyptian Front for Human Rights
  • Sinai Foundation for Human Rights







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