Egypt: Prominent Egyptian Writer and Blogger Under Arrest and Investigation

PEN International is deeply concerned about the detention of Wael Abbas, a prominent Egyptian blogger and political activist. He has been arbitrary detained since his arrest on 23 May 2018, when several armed agents from the Egyptian security service raided his home, blind-folded him and took him to an undisclosed location. During the raid, the agents also confiscated his electronic devices and other personal belongings, including cameras, hard disks, mobile phones, laptops and books.

On 28 May 2018, Abbas was questioned for six hours by Egypt’s Supreme Security Prosecution which has accused him of “joining a terrorist group in realizing its objectives”, “spreading false news damaging public security and public interest” and using social media to spread ideas inciting to commit terrorist acts”. According to reports, Abbas’s file has been included in the judicial case No. 441 of 2018, which also includes journalists and activists such as Mostafa al-Asar, Hassan al-Banna and Ezzat Ghoneim who is a lawyer and the head of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms. Abbas remains detained at Tora prison pending the investigation.

PEN believes that the charges against Abbas’ are related to his peaceful activism and writings critical of the Egyptian government. We call for his immediate and unconditional release and for all charges against him to be dropped. We also call on the Egyptian authorities to free all those held solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly including journalistic or human rights work.

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Send appeals to the Egyptians authorities:

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of blogger and activist, Wael Abbas;
  • Urging them to drop all charges against Abbas and stop persecuting him for his peaceful free expression work;
  • Urging them to ensure that he has full access to family visits, legal representation and adequate medical care whilst in detention;
  • Urging them to ensure that the right to freedom of expression in Egypt is fully respected in law and practice in accordance with the Egyptian Constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a state party.


Please send appeals:
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Office of the President, Al-Ittihadia Palace
Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt
Fax: +202 2 391 1441
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister of Justice Mohamed Hossam Abdel Rahim
Ministry of Justice, Lazoghly Sq.
Fax: +202 2 795 8103
Salutation: Dear Minister

Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar
Ministry of Interior
Fifth Settlement, New Cairo, Egypt
Fax: +202 2794 5529
Salutation: Dear Minister

Please inform PEN of any action you take, and of any responses you receive.

Wael Abbas, born 14 November 1974, is a well-known blogger and pro-democracy activist. He is the recipient of the 2007 Knight International Award for Journalistic Excellence, and Human Rights Watch’s Hellman/Hammett Award 2006. He also won the Egyptians Against Corruption Award 2005/2006. In 2007 Abbas was named Middle East Person of the Year by CNN and was considered one of the Most Influential People of 2006 by the BBC. In his blog, created in 2004, Abbas posted news related to human rights’ violations, including corruption and police brutality. In particular, he posted a video in 2006 showing police torture of an individual, which led to the imprisonment of a police officer, Captain Islam Nabih.

Abbas is the author of many books, including Abdel Nasser and minorities and a collection of Articles 2006 – 2013 which ask the American administration to stop their support of former president Hosni Mubarak, and more recently “another person” which was published in 2018.

Due to his peaceful activities, Abbas has been harassed and subjected to violations for several years. His social media accounts were regularly suspended. Abbas’ arrest on 23 May 2018 comes in the context of a new crackdown on political opponents and activists in Egypt. The situation for freedom of expression and opinion in Egypt has deteriorated sharply since the arrival of President al-Sisi into power in 2014. Many journalists and writers have been arrested or forced to flee the country. PEN passed a Resolution on Egypt at its 82nd World Congress and noted with concern the rise in the number of writers and journalists who have been detained or imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, including for journalistic, artistic, or human rights work (click here to read more about PEN’s work on Egypt).