Egypt: Human rights lawyer faces year in prison for BBC interview

The Mokattam Misdemeanour Court in Egypt today sentenced Zyad el-Elaimy, a human rights lawyer, former MP and one of the leaders of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, to one year in prison and a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds (around US$1,270) for “spreading false news with an intent to spread panic among the people and disturbing public peace” during a TV interview with the BBC in 2017. Responding to the news, Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:

“Zyad el-Elaimy has been unlawfully detained since June last year, when he was arrested in relation to his peaceful political activities. He has now been sentenced to a year in prison for daring to give a TV interview to BBC Arabic, in which he spoke about the practices of politically motivated imprisonment, enforced disappearance and torture in Egypt.

“The unfounded charges of which Zyad has been convicted stem solely from the peaceful expression of his opinion and his peaceful political activities, demonstrating the Egyptian authorities’ total intolerance of dissent. It is outrageous that he has been punished with a year’s imprisonment simply for speaking to the media.

“We call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Zyad and to drop all charges against him. He is a prisoner of conscience, who has been swept up in Egypt’s ruthless purge of critics and opponents.”


Zyad el-Elaimy has appealed against the sentence and the date of 7 April has been set for the appeal hearing. He remains in pre-trial detention pending investigations in another case, known as the “Hope case”, where he is accused, along with other politicians, of unfounded “terrorism”-related offences in retaliation for their attempt to found an electoral alliance for the 2020 parliamentary elections.