New York, February 25, 2021—The Committee to Protect Journalists today issued the following statement in solidarity with Sherif Mansour, the Washington-based head of CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program, his family, and all those defending human rights and press freedom in Egypt:
“Egypt, an ally of the United States, portrays itself as a democracy, but authorities’ actions belie that characterization more with each passing day,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Judicial hostage-taking of critics abroad, and threats to overseas family members of those jailed at home, are the hallmark of a dictatorship. We call on Egyptian authorities to drop these ludicrous accusations against Sherif Mansour and his relatives.”
Mansour’s cousin, Reda Abdelrahman, was detained on August 22; neither his family nor lawyers were able to contact him for the next 44 days, according to Mansour. Abdelrahman, whose pretrial detention has been repeatedly renewed, is due in court in Egypt on March 2 on charges of belonging to an unnamed terrorist organization. Prosecutors allege that Mansour and his father, Ahmed Sobhy Mansour, who also lives in the U.S., are members of the organization. Mansour and his father dismissed the allegations as absurd.
According to Mansour, Human Rights Watch, and other regional and international non-governmental organizations, Egypt is targeting the families of human rights defenders and political activists abroad with sweeping, unsubstantiated terrorism charges as a means of intimidating them into silence, even as it arbitrarily detains critics at home.
Egypt had 27 journalists in prison as of December 1, 2020, the most of any country in the Middle East and North Africa, according to CPJ research.