Egyptian President Sisi grants clemency to detained advocate Ahmed Douma

Egyptian President Sisi Grants Clemency To Detained Advocate Ahmed Douma

Lawyers announced on August 19, 2023 that Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma has received a presidential pardon for his imprisonment in Egypt.

  • Presidential Pardon Granted to Egyptian Activist Ahmed Douma
  • Lawyers representing Douma confirmed that he was among several prisoners who received pardons.
  • Ahmed Douma played a significant role in the 2011 uprising in Egypt.

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Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma, a prominent figure in the country’s 2011 uprising and who had been imprisoned for the past decade, has been granted a presidential pardon, according to his lawyers on Saturday.

Lawyer Tarek Elawady, a member of the presidential pardons committee, stated that “President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi… has exercised his constitutional powers” to grant pardons to several prisoners, including Douma.

Meanwhile, prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali took to social media to announce that he was waiting outside Badr prison on the outskirts of Cairo for Douma’s release.

In 2019, Douma was sentenced to 15 years in prison for clashing with security forces in the capital city two years prior. This reduced his previous 25-year sentence handed down in 2015.

Egypt’s highest appeals court upheld the 15-year sentence in 2019, along with a fine of six million Egyptian pounds ($372,000 at that time).

At the age of 37, Douma was a prominent activist during the 2011 uprising that led to the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak.

While being held in solitary confinement, Douma authored a collection of poems titled “Curly,” which was published in 2021. However, the collection was swiftly removed from the Cairo International Book Fair due to “security reasons.”

In one of his poems written from prison, Douma writes, “There’s no time for depression, no opportunity for sadness, the flood is raging.”

Following the military ousting of Mubarak’s successor, Islamist Mohamed Morsi, in 2013, Douma was arrested as part of a crackdown.

Sisi, the former army chief who led Morsi’s removal, has faced accusations of conducting an extensive crackdown on both pro-democracy activists and Islamists.

Increasing Frustration

Key activists from the revolution, such as British-Egyptian pro-democracy blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, remain in prison after years of detention.

Hossam Bahgat, a human rights defender, welcomed the news of Douma’s imminent release but criticized the lack of transparency in the selection process for pardons.

Critics argue that although the president has pardoned numerous prominent figures in the past year, more individuals have been arrested during the same period.

According to Egyptian rights monitors, while authorities released 1,000 political prisoners amid great fanfare since April of the previous year, they detained nearly 3,000 more.

In July, Sisi pardoned researcher Patrick Zaki a day after he received a three-year sentence. The president also pardoned rights lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, who was arrested in 2019 while attending an interrogation of his client, Abdel Fattah.

Hossam Bahgat, the founder of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, stated that the authorities have become aware of the growing frustration both domestically and internationally.

However, Bahgat informed AFP that “the regime shows no signs of moving towards resolving the issue of political prisoners in Egypt.”

The pardons coincide with Egypt’s ongoing “national dialogue” intended to engage the decimated opposition following a decade of repression under Sisi’s rule.

Last Wednesday, the president announced that he had received the initial recommendations from the “dialogue” and handed them over to the relevant authorities for implementation within the legal and constitutional framework.

The presidential election of Egypt is scheduled for 2024, although no official candidates have been announced yet. It is widely expected that the incumbent Sisi will run in the upcoming polls.

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