Student jailed for anti-torture T-shirt finally released by Egypt

Student jailed for anti-torture T-shirt finally released by Egypt
3 min read
23 March, 2016
Mahmoud Hussein who has been in prison for over two years for wearing an anti-torture T-shirt was on Tuesday released on bail by an Egyptian court.
Hussein was arrested on the third anniversary of the Egyptian revolution [Getty]

An Egyptian court on Tuesday released a student who had been jailed for more than two years for wearing a T-shirt with an anti-torture slogan, his lawyer and a court official said.

Mahmoud Hussein has been held in pre-trial detention since his arrest in Cairo on 25 January 2014. He was 18 at the time.

His brother and his lawyer said he was arrested by security forces along with his friend Islam Talaat because of his T-shirt which bore the words "Nation Without Torture".

Amnesty International has described Hussein as a "prisoner of conscience" and has repeatedly called for his release.

In January the watchdog said his detention "without charge or trial... is yet another appalling example of the ruthless and repressive tactics Egypt is resorting to in a bid to crush dissent".

Amnesty said Hussein was arrested on his way home from a protest against military rule before being "tortured and ill-treated in detention".

His arrest came on the third anniversary of the uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak, a day marked by deadly clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Since then he and his friend Talaat were remanded into custody several times.

He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place.
Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International

But on Tuesday a court ordered their release on bail of 1,000 Egyptian pounds (100 euros, $112) each, a court official said.

Mohamed's brother Tarek confirmed the decision in a message posted on Twitter and his lawyer Mokhtar Munir also said the young man would walk free as soon as his release papers are processed.

Amnesty on Tuesday called on Egyptian authorities to expediate his release after holding him for 790 days.

"While the court's decision comes as a huge relief for Mahmoud Hussein and his family, it should not overshadow the outrageous injustice he has suffered," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty's interim Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program.

"He is a prisoner of conscience who should never have been jailed in the first place."

"The fact that he languished behind bars for nearly 790 days just because of the slogan on his T-shirt shows just how dire the human rights situation in Egypt has become," added Mughrabi.

The rights group said that Hussein will not be truly free until the ludicrous charges against him are dropped and the conditions of his release are removed.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has launched a deadly crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and secular leftists, since leading a military coup in 2013.

Hundreds of supporters of the now blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood have been killed and thousands jailed, while hundreds more have been sentenced to death.