Egypt Targets Civil Society Leader Esraa Abdelfattah Under Case 173

October 8, 2018

The World Movement for Democracy is concerned to learn that Egyptian activist Esraa Abdelfattah has been summoned to appear before a judge for questioning on October 9, 2018 in relation to Case 173. Commonly called the “NGO foreign funding case,” Case 173 is a politically-motivated investigation into civil society organizations working on democracy and human rights issues that receive foreign funding. In June 2013, it was used to sentence 43 Egyptian, American, and German NGO workers to sentences ranging from 1-5 years on charges of receiving money from abroad and establishing branches of an international organization without a license. Abdelfattah is being questioned in relation to her role as a projects manager for the Egyptian Democratic Academy, a non-governmental organization that promotes the use of new media tools to foster democracy and human rights.

Esraa Abdelfattah is a co-founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, a group originally created to show support for industrial workers in the town of El-Mahalla El-Kubra who were calling for increased labor rights. The April 6 Youth Movement later became a popular political movement demanding basic rights for all Egyptians. Abdelfattah, a 2011 nominee for a Nobel Peace Prize, has faced sustained government harassment due to the nature of her work over the last decade. Since 2015, she has been unable to leave the country due to a travel ban. Prior, she was imprisoned for several weeks in Qanater Women’s Prison for her role in organizing the 2008 “Facebook Protests” in support of workers who were planning a strike on April 6, 2008.

Abdelfattah’s summons comes amidst an ongoing crackdown on members of civil society in Egypt, in which activists and journalists have been arrested in unprecedented numbers. Given this environment, the World Movement is fearful that this summons represents an increasing trend of targeting and harassing activists under President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, and we are fearful of the implications for Esraa Abdelfattah. Join us in calling on the government of Egypt to cease the harassment of Abdelfattah and other civil society leaders in Egypt.