Snapshot from ON TV shows Egyptian journalist Ismail Alexandrani during an interview – Courtesy to ON TV channel Snapshot from ON TV shows Egyptian journalist Ismail Alexandrani during an interview – Courtesy to ON TV channel

Journo to spend 30 more days in jail without trial since Dec. 2015

Wed, May. 2, 2018
CAIRO – 2 May 2018: Egypt’s military prosecution renewed on Wednesday the detention of the internationally acclaimed Egyptian researcher and journalist Ismail al-Iskandarani, extending his detention for another 30 days pending investigations.

Iskandarani was referred from high state security prosecution to military prosecution over charges of belonging to an illegal organization and spreading false news.

His lawyer, Mokhtar Mounir, has told the state-run Al-Ahram news website that his defendant was referred to military prosecution on December 13, 2017, without the knowledge of his legal team.

The 32-year-old Iskandarani has spent more than 850 days behind bars without trial. According to Egyptian law, the maximum preventative detention period approved for a person without referral to trial is two years (720 days).

Who is Iskandarani?

Alexandrani is a sociopolitical researcher and investigative freelance journalist who specializes in the affairs of Sinai Peninsula.

He is also a volunteer researcher on Sinai issues at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).

Moreover, he has been a fellow researcher at the Paris-based Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) since 2013 in which he receives education on the future relationship between the progressive Islamists and the Secular Left in Egypt.

In 2015, before his detention, he published a chapter called "Violence in Sinai: the State's War on Society and Producing Terrorism" in a book titled "L'Egypte en revolution(s)" (Egypt in revolution[s]).

Moreover, he wrote for several local and international news websites and was awarded several local and international press prizes. He was also a visiting fellow at the US-based Woodrow Wilson Centre. He won the Open Eye-Hany Darweesh Award for Exceptional Essay in Germany in 2014.

How was he arrested?

Iskandarani was arrested at Hurghada Airport on returning from Germany to Cairo to visit his sick mother in December 2015.

It was reported that he had lectured and participated in a series of seminars in Europe and the US on the political situation.

His wife claimed on her official Twitter account that a report was filed against him by the Egyptian Embassy in Berlin. Security officers at the airport investigated him and found on his laptop articles on the political and security situation in Sinai.

The prosecutors had issued a warrant for Iskandarani's arrest then referred him to Cairo’s State Prosecution authority for questioning. Iskandarani's friends wrote on their social media accounts that he was questioned for over 19 hours.

Though his friends confirmed that the security officials had assured them that Iskandarani would be freed, it ended by sending him to Tora prison, a high security prison.

He was granted a release in November 2016, but the prosecutor appealed the decision, resulting in an extra 45-day detention. Since then, those periods have been systematically renewed.

Calls to free Iskandarani

Several Egyptian activists and international rights groups have condemned Iskandarani's arrest and detention.

Berlin has asked Cairo to explain why Iskandarani was arrested on his return from Germany, according to Agence France-Presse (AFB) News agency.

Deputy Foreign Minister Maria Boehmer wrote regarding this query: "The government is following this case closely and has sought clarification from the Egyptian Embassy."

The New York Committee to Protect Journalists also called on the Egyptian authorities to release Iskandarani.

Political researcher Amr Hamzawy, who is on the terrorist watch list, used the hashtag and said on Twitter, “You will not succeed in gagging mouths all the time. Freedom for everyone wronged and accountability for everyone involved in violating people’s rights.”

Users on social media launched the hashtag #freedom_to_Ismail_AlIskandarany, calling for his release.
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