In Egypt, wife of jailed rights lawyer detained for 13 hours over social media post detailing abuse in prison

Neamatallah Hisham was abruptly arrested after making social media posts shedding light on the brutal treatment meted out to her husband, Mohammed El-Baqer, in solitary confinement, as well as the maltreatment of other prisoners

April 18, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
Neamatallah Hisham detained Egypt
(Photo: EIPR)

Neamatallah Hisham, wife of imprisoned Egyptian human rights lawyer Mohammed El-Baqer, was released from detention after being held for close to 13 hours on Monday, April 17, according to a tweet by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). Hisham was reportedly released from a prison in capital Cairo around 5 pm. 

She was arrested after her social media posts that detailed the brutal treatment meted out to her husband in solitary confinement, as well as the maltreatment of other prisoners. She had alleged that her husband was beaten, gagged, and forced to continuously stand in his underwear for two days while he was being held in solitary confinement. 

El-Baqer was reportedly placed in solitary confinement from April 10 to 13 as part of disciplinary measures against him and a few of his cellmates—namely Muhammad Al-Qassas, Muhammad Ibrahim (Oxygen), Ahmed Doma, and Hamid Siddiq—for attempting to come to the rescue of another elderly prisoner who was being abused by the prison officials.

Hisham made the revelations regarding her husband after visiting him in prison on Sunday. Hours after her visit, Egyptian security forces stormed into her home around 3.30 am on Monday and arrested her. They subsequently took her to an undisclosed location and confiscated her mobile phone. 

Her arrest was condemned by several human rights groups, as well as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor, who called the arrest “disturbing” and asked for Hisham’s immediate, unconditional release.

El-Baqer is currently serving a four-year prison sentence on charges of “broadcasting fake news.” He was accused of these charges while he was serving as the lawyer for prominent Egyptian human rights activists and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, who is himself serving a five-year prison sentence on similar charges. Rights groups have repeatedly expressed alarm over politically motivated arrests by authorities in Egypt and the torture and abuse of prisoners. Reports estimate that under the regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, around 60,000 people are being held in prisons across Egypt, with the number of prisons and detention centers also rising to a staggering 168.