The Cairo Criminal Court announced on Saturday that the first trial session in the so called “Egyptian Council for Change” case will start on 3 September after the State Security Prosecution finished its preliminary investigations.
The case is one of dozens including alleged members of the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, where the state accuses them of several crimes including murder, inciting violence, plotting against the state, and spreading false news.
In the case, according to prosecution files, there are 19 defendants who will be on trial in absentia, while eight others are present. According to case papers, published by state-owned newspaper Al-Goumhoryia, defendants have participated in “colluding against state organisations, broadcasting, and publishing false news and statements, concerning political, economic, and the security status of the country with the aim of mobilising citizens to participate in anti-government gatherings.”
The prosecution also accused the defendants of communicating with personnel from different diplomatic missions with the aim of “applying pressure on the Egyptian state.” It also added that among the files that were used by the defendants to there were files to “distort the image of Egypt abroad” and files to distort the status and conditions of prisoners in Egypt.
Finally, the prosecution stated that some of the defendants worked on infiltrating labour and students’ groups, in order to “stir public opinion.” In many instances, students, and workers, in civilian groups, have been arrested and accused of belonging to the now the banned Brotherhood.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a televised speech during a military graduation ceremony that marked the commemoration of the 23 July revolution of 1952, that Egypt has encountered 21,000 rumours in only three months, “aimed at creating confusion and instability.” This pushed several media outlets, privately and publicly owned, to dedicate space and time to campaign and warn against “rumours and foreign reports.”
Egypt has systematically expressed rejection statements and reports by foreign organisations and governments that criticize Egypt’s human rights conditions.
During the 36th opening session of the human rights council in 2017, the High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein reflected on the situation of civil society during the past years, and recent measures imposed in the country, such as the declaration of the state of emergency and the blocking of websites, which was decided under the justification of fighting terrorism.
At the time, Egypt’s delegation at the United Nations rejected that United Nations Humans Rights statement saying that it “reflected dissolved logic, and political views that crossed all barriers” and came in violation to mandate set for the commissioner post as he is required to respect the sovereignty and internal jurisdiction of states and not to compare them with terrorist and extremist criminal groups.