A campaign to support the release of detainee Khaled Al-Ansary launched Thursday an online campaign that promotes using hashtags on social media platforms to demand his release.
After 70 days in detention, Al-Ansary along with three other defendants were referred to trial by the Supreme State Security Prosecution. The first trial will take place on 3 April.
The defendants are charged with allegedly forming a group called “25 January”, which the campaign describes as non-existent.
Using a hashtag that reads “Freedom for the fake group detainees”, the campaign is expected to last until Saturday.
Al-Ansary is a second-year law school student. He was arrested from his home on 30 December 2015, according to the campaign. Security forces stormed into the house and inspected his belongings and then took him to Boulaq Al-Dakrour police station, where he has received repeated detention renewals.
Ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution, Egyptian authorities undertook unprecedented security measures to tighten its grip on protests and unrest. This extended to reports of random arrests and detentions in addition to military tanks surrounding Tahrir Square.
The increasing number of detainees during this period also included journalist Mahmoud Al-Sakka, who was later released. Al-Sakka, who works for Yanair news portal, was accused of belonging to a group called “Youth of 25 January”.
Al-Ansary is reportedly suffering from deteriorated health conditions inside the detention facility. According to the campaign, he is staying in an overcrowded cell with poor ventilation.
This has been the case for dozens of other detainees. In 2014, 52 detainees died inside detention facilities due to poor conditions, the head of forensics authority Hisham Abdel Hamid previously told Daily News Egypt.
The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a local human rights watchdog, said in a statement on Wednesday the reason the behind deteriorating conditions in detention facilities is the lack of accountability mechanisms for prison authorities and officers.
“Amid the absence of accountability there is no way those conditions will improve,” the statement read.
It also added that the latest prosecution visit to prisons was over a year ago and, until present, there were no reports on the inspection results or the situation inside cells in general nor were there any changes in those conditions.
A recent photo gallery published by a local newspaper allegedly taken in Alexandria’s Borg Al-Arab prison sparked widespread criticism, especially from the inmates’ families.
The photos showcased Ministry of Interior officials during a visit to the prison with massive amounts of food and inmates playing ping pong while others were reading in a library. The images convey an impression of a prosperous lifestyle inside the prison.
Ranwa Youssef, whose husband is currently imprisoned in the same prison, slammed the newspaper for publishing the photos as she said her husband Youssef Shabaan is living completely the opposite of this propagated reality.
She encountered lengthy hours of waiting ahead of the visit, and several occasions of food being prevented from entering and other belongings in addition to preventing medical treatment for Shabaan, who is suffering from Hepatitis C.
The Ministry of Interior, on the other hand, has repeatedly denied that prisoners are suffering from poor conditions.