Mohamed Ibrahim (Mohamed Oxygen)

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Mohamed Ibrahim, a blogger known as Mohamed Oxygen, was initially arrested in April 2018 and detained for over a year. In July 2019 a court released him on probation, but he was taken back into custody in September 2019 on new charges. He was scheduled for release in November 2020, but his detention was extended after prosecutors added a further charge. 

Ibrahim had been detained from April 6, 2018, to July 31, 2019, on charges of being a member of a banned group and spreading false news, the regional press freedom group Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported.

When a Cairo Criminal Court on July 22, 2019 ordered Ibrahim’s release pending the outcome of his trial, it stated he must sign in at a police station twice a week, according to ANHRI. Nine days after the court ruling, the blogger was released, ANHRI reported. 

On September 21, 2019, police detained Ibrahim went he arrived at the el-Basateen police station in Giza as part of his release conditions, according to the ANRHI and the Regional Center for Rights and Liberties

On October 8, 2019, a Cairo criminal court charged the blogger with membership in a banned group, spreading false news, and misusing social media platforms to disrupt national security, and ordered his detention for 15 days, according to ANHRI. During this hearing session, authorities did not allow Ibrahim’s lawyer in court, according to the network. 

The fresh arrest came as the government cracked down on protests over army corruption that included calls on Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi to resign. Between late September and mid-October 2019, authorities charged over 3,690 people with membership of a banned group, spreading false news, and misusing social media platforms to disrupt national security, the local legal non-governmental organization Egyptian Center for Economic & Social Rights reported.  

A few hours before his arrest, Ibrahim had tweeted a list naming protesters and journalists detained during protests. 

Ibrahim’s previous arrest on April 6, 2018 came after he reported on government opposition figures and irregularities in Egypt’s 2018 presidential election, according to his social media accounts and a YouTube post from his colleague Mona Ahmed. Ibrahim’s blog, Oxygen Egypt, featured critical reports on the presidential election and alleged police abuse. Ibrahim also managed a YouTube channel that included interviews on the street with Egyptians on a range of subjects. The reports did not specify which blog or content the prosecutor cited as reason for the charges.

Ibrahim was one of at least two journalists arrested in 2018 as part of a larger crackdown and mass trial known as case 621, in which over 40 defendants were accused of false news and being members of a banned group.

On September 28, 2018, U.N. human rights experts urged Egyptian authorities to ensure Ibrahim was afforded every right to due process and a fair, impartial, and public trial.

On November 3, 2020, a terrorism court in Cairo ordered the release of at least 300 people held in pretrial detention, including Ibrahim, without revealing the reason for its decision, according to news reports. However, as Ibrahim was waiting to be released, the state prosecutor’s office filed an additional charge against him on November 10, 2020, alleging membership in a terrorist organization, and ordered his detention to be extended pending an investigation into that charge, according to ANHRI and news reports

The Egyptian interior ministry banned visitors between March 2020 and August 2020 due to COVID-19, according to news reports. Sometime during that period, Ibrahim was moved to a maximum security section of the Tora Prison Complex, called Scorpion, according to a family friend, who declined to be identified for fear of reprisal, and news reports

ANHRI reported in October 2020 that Ibrahim had been denied family visits after the prison reopened following the COVID-19 closure, family payments for his use in the prison commissary, and medication and goods from his family. As of late September 2021, prison authorities have continued to deny him these things, according to the family friend and news reports

In 2021, prosecutors repeatedly extended Ibrahim’s pretrial detention by 45 days, according to a report by local rights group the Freedom of Thought and Expression Law Firm (AFTE) and news reports.

Local lawyers and rights groups have noted that the Egyptian penal code allows detainees to be held in pretrial detention for a maximum period of two years, and that it is common practice for Egyptian authorities to file additional charges against detainees to extend that period, in what has become known the “revolving door policy.” 

In August 2021, Ibrahim attempted suicide in his cell, and his life was saved at the last minute, according to a report by ANHRI and news reports, which did not provide further details of the incident. Since prison authorities are still denying him family visits, the family does not have information on his health, according to the family friend.

In October 2021, authorities referred Ibrahim, journalist Alaa Abdelfattah, and his imprisoned lawyer Mohamed al-Baker, to trial, according to news reports. The three are scheduled to be sentenced on December 20, 2021, according to a local press freedom advocate who spoke with CPJ on the condition of anonymity citing fear of reprisal, and news reports

The Ministry of Interior, which oversees the police, the prison system, and the prosecutor general’s office did not answer CPJ’s emails requesting comment on Ibrahim’s case in September 2021.