Activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah's trial adjourned for review

Detained Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah's trial adjourned until November
3 min read
18 October, 2021
Alaa Abdel-Fattah’s sister, activist Mona Seif, accused the judiciary of not facilitating a fair trial for her brother.
Prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah has been accused of spreading false news on social media [Getty]

CAIRO: The trial of prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah has been adjourned until 1 November after its first session was held on Monday, lawyer Khaled Ali wrote on his official Facebook page.

Abdel-Fattah is being tried along with his lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer and activist Mohamed Ibrahim on charges of spreading "false news" on social media.

The adjournment of the trial means that the three men will have their detention extended for two more weeks, pending the next session.

Abdel-Fattah’s sister, Mona Seif, accused the judiciary of not facilitating a fair trial for her brother.

"All the demands we presented have been ignored, including a request for an official photocopy of the case file," Seif, tweeted following the court session.

"[The judges] just want the lawyers to quickly take a look at the documents in an extraordinary trial that has no appeal…madness is ruling all aspects of our lives, #SaveAlaa," she added.

Abdel-Fattah and Baqer were imprisoned after rare, small-scale protests broke out in Cairo in September 2019 against President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's government, following revelations that Sisi had used public money to pay for luxurious palaces for himself and his family.

They were added to Cairo's "terror" list late last year, with both subject to travel bans and an assets freeze.

Ibrahim, who goes by the name "Mohamed Oxygen", was arrested in September 2019 for posting protest-related videos on his blog, according to Amnesty International.

Both Abdel-Fattah and Baqer have been held in pre-trial detention after completing 24 months in jail without any conviction - contrary to the Egyptian code of criminal procedure.

Legally, a person can be detained for a maximum of two years, pending trial, renewed every 45 days throughout this period.   

Abdel-Fattah has been held in solitary confinement and denied access to books or the jail yard to exercise during his detention at the notorious maximum-security Tora Prison over the past two years.

In September, his family said they were concerned about his safety after he suggested to a judge presiding over his last hearing that he might commit suicide unless his conditions were improved or he was transferred to another prison.

But his sister tweeted on Monday that her brother looked better psychologically after being allowed to speak to the judge.

"Alaa… was transferred [to the court room] in an armoured vehicle alone because he is 'very dangerous' as we know," she tweeted sarcastically.

Abdel-Fattah was a prominent figure in Egypt's 2011 uprising against autocratic President Hosni Mubarak and had already spent time in jail before his 2019 arrest.

He was arrested on multiple occasions and was previously jailed for five years over arranging a protest without a permit.

The Sisi regime has been accused by human rights groups of overseeing the country's worst crackdown on dissent in decades, an accusation frequently denied by his government.

Sisi, a former army chief, headed a military coup in 2013 that overthrew Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Security forces have launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent since then, with rights groups estimating that Egypt holds about 60,000 political prisoners.