Posts Tagged ‘Alaa Abd El Fattah’

2017 was a grim year for imprisoned technologists

December 29, 2017

Prison Hands

Since its founding, EFF has highlighted and defended cases of injustice and fearmongering perpetrated against innocent technologists. We advocate for unjustly imprisoned technologists and bloggers with our Offline project. In 2017, we continue to see fear being whipped up against those who oppose oppression with modern tools—as well as those who have done nothing more than teach and share technology so that we can all use and understand it better:

Dmitry Bogatov, software developer and math lecturer at Moscow’s Finance and Law University. Bogatov ran a volunteer Tor relay, allowing people around the world to protect their identities as they used the Internet. It was one part of his numerous acts of high-tech public service, which include co-maintaining Xmonad and other Haskell software for the Debian project. For his generosity, Bogatov has now spent over a hundred days in pretrial detention, wrongfully accused of posting extremist materials that were allegedly sent via through Tor server. Law enforcement officials around the world understand that data that appears to originate from a particular Tor machine is, in fact, traffic from its anonymised users. But that didn’t stop Bogatov’s prosecutors in Russia from accusing him of sending the data himself, under a pseudonym, to foment riots—and added new charges of “inciting terrorism” when a judge suggested the earlier charge was too weak to hold Bogatov in pre-trial detention.

Ahmed Mansoor, of the United Arab Emirates. Mansoor has been a tireless voice for victims of human rights abuses in the United Arab Emirates. In 2011, amidst the Arab uprisings, he was one of five Emirati citizens to be sentenced to prison for his social media postings. That case provoked international condemnation, and the group was soon pardoned. Mansoor was subsequently targeted with sophisticated government spyware on his iPhone; he recognised and passed on the malware link to experts, which led to the discovery of three previously unknown vulnerabilities in Apple’s iOS. In April, Mansoor was seized by the UAE authorities again. On the day of his arrest, the UAE’s official news agency saying that he had been arrested on the orders of the Public Prosecution for Cybercrimes and accused of using social media to promote sectarianism and hate, among other charges. Mansoor’s family did not hear from him for two weeks, and he has been denied access to a lawyer. Just a year ago, Apple was able to roll out a security fix to their users because of Mansoor’s swift, transparent, and selfless actions. Millions of people are safer because of Ahmed’s actions, even as his family fears for his own physical and mental safety. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2017/03/28/ahmed-mansoor-under-arrest-emirates-under-pressure/]

Alaa abd el-Fattah ran Linux installfests across the Middle-East and was a key online voice in the Egyptian uprising. Since then he has been jailed, in turn, by the democratically elected Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, and then when Morsi was overthrown in a coup, by incoming President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Alaa’s appeal against a five year prison sentence for protesting—widely seen as a means to silence him on social media—was refused in November of this yearAmnesty and the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have both condemned Alaa’s continuing imprisonment.

Another long-term case is that of Saeed Malekpour, who has been in jail in Iran since 2008. Malekpour returned from Canada to visit his sick Iranian father in October of that year, at a time when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard was starting to target technologists and Internet experts. As an open source coder, Malekpour had written a free front-end image management utility for websites. The Guard found this software on a Farsi pornography site, and used it to as a pretext to seize Malekpour from the streets of Tehran, charge him with running the web site, and sentencing him to death. Malekpour’s death sentence has been anulled twice following international pressure, but a change of government in his home country of Canada risked reducing the level of support for Malekpour. A campaign to encourage the new Trudeau administration to continue to advocate for Malekpour, even as Canada seeks to normalize relations with Iran, seems to be working. One of Malekpour’s advocates, former Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, has said that the Canadian government is now working on the case. The continuing monitoring of Malekpour’s life sentence is a small consolation, but better than the alternative.

Peter Steudtner and Ali Gharavi travel the world, teaching and advising Internet users on how to improve their privacy and digital security online (Ali was an advisor for EFF’s Surveillance Self-Defence project). The two were arrested in a raid by Turkish police on a digital security workshop in July in Istanbul, along with Amnesty Turkeys’ director, Idil Eser, and eight other human rights defenders. The two technology consultants have been accused of aiding terrorists, despite the long history of both as peaceful advocates for secure online practices. After months of detention, concentrated diplomatic and public pressure led to both being released to join their families in Germany and Sweden. We’re delighted that they are free, but their unjust prosecution—and that of their Turkish colleagues—continues in the Turkish courts. 

Bassel Khartabil, the Syrian free culture advocate. Before his arrest and torture in 2012, Bassel was the driving force behind countless projects to turn technology for the public good in his country. He founded a hackerspace in Damascus, translated Creative Commons into a Middle Eastern context, and built out Wikipedia and Mozilla for his fellow Syrians. Bassel’s generosity brought him notability and respect. His prominence and visibility as a voice outside the divided political power-bases of Syria made him an early target when the Syrian civil war became violent. Bassel was killed by the Syrian government in 2015, shortly after he was removed from a civilian prison and sent into the invisibility of Syria’s hidden security complexes.

 

https://personalliberty.com/grim-year-imprisoned-technologists-2017-review/

An exceptional Egyptian family of human rights defenders

August 21, 2014

The family of MEA 2013 Final Nominee, Mona Seif, continues to be under the greatest strain in Egypt. Front Line Defenders reports that on 18 August 2014, her brother, human rights defender Mr Alaa Abd El Fattah, began a hunger strike to protest his detention [http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/AlaaAbdElFattah] and said that he will remain on hunger strike until he is released. Her sister human rights defender Ms Sanaa Seif also continues to be imprisoned. [https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/26336]. Her father, human rights defender Ahmed Seif El-Islam is in the Intensive Care Unit of Qasr el-Eini hospital. Her family had tried several times to visit the father, but in vain.

Egypt: Extended detention of human rights defenders protesting the “Protests Law”

June 24, 2014

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedreports that 0n 23 June 2014, the Public Prosecutor in Egypt ordered that the detention of human rights defenders Ms Yara Sallam and Ms Sanaa Seif be extended by four days. The day before, the human rights defenders were accused of breaching the ‘Protests Law’ by demonstrating without a permit, committing acts of violence, possession of inflammable material and Molotov cocktails, blocking a road, sabotaging public and private property, and belonging to the banned group ‘April 6’. The human rights defenders were among 24 persons arrested on 21 June 2014 during a demonstration against the ‘Protests Law’.

Yara Sallam is a human rights researcher who currently works with the NGO Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). She is also the winner of the African Shield Human Rights Defenders   in 2013. Sanaa Seif is a student who has participated in previous protests in the defence of human rights. The human rights defender was arbitrarily detained during Magles El Wuzara events on 16 December 2011, and was released on the same day. Sanaa Seif is also the sister of human rights defender Mr Alaa Abd El Fattah, who was sentenced in absentia on 11 June 2014 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/26164 and of Mona Seif, MEA Nominee of 2013 (https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/egyptian-hrd-and-mea-nominee-mona-seif-under-attack/)

Twenty-three of the individuals arrested at the protest have had their detention extended by four days and one was released on bail. A decision on whether to charge the human rights defenders is expected shortly. The human rights defenders’ lawyer, Mr Mohamed Khedr, has highlighted inconsistencies in the testimonies of witnesses for the prosecution, as well as within the police’s own statements. In particular, the police secretary accused the protesters of damaging a police vehicle at 9:30pm on 21 June 2014, despite the demonstrators having been arrested at 5:30pm that day outside a kiosk when they were not present at the protest, and a police report having been filed against them at 9:30pm. The police found no inflammable objects within the possession of the demonstrators.

The human rights defenders are two of several Egyptian human rights defenders, such as Maheinour Al Masry <http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/25996> , who have been targeted through the ‘Protests Law’ (Law no 107 of 2013 on the Right to Public Meetings, Processions and Peaceful Demonstrations). The law was approved on 24 November 2013 by interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour and has been condemned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, as well as the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, Maina Kiai.

Mona Seif reports on crackdown in Egypt including her brother’s case

December 6, 2013

By Mona Seif, founder of ‘No to Military Trials for Civilians’ and Final Nominee 2013 of the MEA reports in some detail the following:

Egyptian Activists Arrested in Growing Crackdown – Activist Alaa Abd El Fattah one of at least 27 people currently charged under Egypt’s new anti-protest law

Mona Seif, Egypt - Final Nominee MEA 2013

Mona Seif, Egypt – Final Nominee MEA 2013

Egypt is facing a growing crackdown on political protest and dissent. This week has seen the arrest of 27 political activists under the cover of a new law designed to effectively ban protest in Egypt. On November 26th the well-known and internationally respected activist group, No to Military Trials for Civilians, called for a demonstration in front of the Shoura Council (the Upper House of the Egyptian parliament) to protest the failure of the current draft constitution to legislate against the military court martials of civilians. The entirely peaceful protest was met with serious force by the police, who attacked demonstrators with a water cannon and tear gas while arresting as many people as they could. At least 51 people were arrested that day. Read the rest of this entry »