Freedom for Egyptian Rights Activist
Freedom House welcomed the acquittal today of Saad Eddin Ibrahim by Egypt's highest court. The decision brings to an end a lengthy campaign by the government of Egypt against the country's most prominent democracy advocate and could offer new hope for human rights there.
"This is a momentous day for Saad Eddin and his family and we celebrate the court's decision with them," said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. "This is also an important day for justice and the rule of law in Egypt. We hope it represents a turning point for the country's human rights and democracy advocates and that it will set a precedent that eliminates the threat of official persecution against advocates of peaceful democratic change," she said.
Dr. Ibrahim was first arrested in June 2000 along with 27 colleagues from the Ibn Khaldun Center, an independent think tank founded by Dr. Ibrahim that focused on political and economic reform, and documented human rights abuses and government and electoral irregularities in Egypt.
Dr. Ibrahim, a Muslim, has also spoken out on behalf of religious tolerance and against violent attacks on Egypt's Coptic Christian minority.
A state security court convicted Dr. Ibrahim in May 2001 of tarnishing Egypt's image by accepting a grant from the European Union used to encourage people to vote in Egypt's legislative elections in 2000. He was sentenced to seven years in prison. He appealed the sentence but was found guilty again. Today's decision by Egypt's highest court came after Dr. Ibrahim's last option for appeal.
Dr. Ibrahim was the recent recipient of Freedom House's Bette Bao Lord Award for Writing on Freedom. The Award is named for Freedom House Chairman Emeritus and author, Bette Bao Lord. Dr. Ibrahim is the author of numerous monographs, essays and articles on democracy, human rights and economic development. His wife Barbara accepted the award on his behalf at an event in October at Freedom House's Washington, D.C. office.
Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom awarded Dr. Ibrahim its International Religious Freedom Award in a ceremony in the U.S. Capitol in December 1999. Dr. Paul Marshall, the Center's senior scholar, was one of the first westerners to visit Dr. Ibrahim while he was held in jail during his initial trial in 2000.
Click here for a Freedom House background report on the status of political rights and civil liberties in Egypt.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.