Emergency action: Detained journalist Hisham Fouad at risk from medical neglect in prison

Hisham Fouad
Picture via revsoc.me

Family members and lawyers are growing increasingly concerned for the health of journalist Hisham Fouad, detained on trumped-up charges of “economic conspiracy” in Egypt for that last one and half year. Hisham has been denied medical examinations and treatment for both a pre-existing pathology in his back vertebrae and new health conditions, including digestive and dental problems, for more than month. Deliberate medical neglect is shockingly common in Egyptian prisoners, and those who are still in “pre-trail” detention like Hisham are even more vulnerable than those who have been convicted. Nearly 70 detainees died between January and November 2020 from medical neglect, and there were dozens of appeals and complaints from prisoners and their families during the same period.

Hisham was seized by security forces on 25 June 2019 along with a group of opposition figures. According to statement by the Egyptian interior ministry, they are facing charges of directing a “economic conspiracy” aimed at siphoning funds from 19 companies towards activities planned by the banned opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Former Social Democratic Party MP and lawyer Ziyad al-Alimi, and Omar El-Shenety, executive director of Multiples Group Investment Bank were reported to be among those arrested.

Hisham Fouad is a well-known figure on the Egyptian left. A leading student activist in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he went on to play a key role in the mid-1990s in a campaign by young journalists to resist control of the Egyptian Journalists’ Union by media owners and managers. Over the following decades his journalism was vital in mobilising support for the workers’ movement, including for the independent unions which emerged in the late 2000s. Hisham was also a prominent organiser in the movement against war on Iraq in 2003 and in Palestine solidarity activism. Dozens of leading trade unionists, including NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, Sian Jones NUJ, President, Mark Serwotka General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and TUC president, Kevin Courtney Joint General Secretary, National Education Union (NEU) and Jane Loftus, then President of the Communication Workers’ Union, signed a protest letter to the Egyptian government calling for his immediate release and that of fellow socialist activst, labour lawyer Haitham Mohamedain.

What you can do:

  • Write a letter of protest and post it to Ambassador Nasser Kamel, Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt, 26 South Street, London, W1K 1DW Suggested wording: “Dear Ambassador, I am deeply concerned to hear about the ongoing medical neglect of Hisham Fouad Abdel Alim, currently detained in connection with State Security Case no. 930. According to his lawyers, he has been denied access to treatment for back pain, digestive and dental problems for the past month. As an Egyptian citizen it is his constitutional right to access health care and treatment and I urge you to take urgent action to ensure he can access appropriate specialist medical care and treatment without further delay. I find it extraordinary that Mr Abdel Alim has been detained without trial for more than a year and a half and urge the Egyptian autorities to release him immediately. I will be copying this letter to the British Foreign Secretary and will be urging them to take up this matter with their Egyptian counterparts. Yours faithfully ….”
  • Email the same text to: eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg. Email the same text to: eg.emb_london@mfa.gov.eg. If you get a failure notice / bounceback for your email please also try etembuk@hotmail.com and contact.us@mfa.gov.eg You can also try phoning 020 7499 3304 or 020 7499 2401. If you have access to a fax try: 020 7491 1542.
  • Send a copy of the letter to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab via fcdo.correspondence@fcdo.gov.uk and a copy to your local MP, asking them to raise the matter with the Foreign Secretary.
  • On Twitter tag @DominicRaab and @Alsisiofficial using the hashtags #FreeHisham #MedicalNeglectinEgypt