In reaction to the announcement of a hearing during which 10 Nubian Egyptians risk being sentenced to prison terms on August 31, following a trial contrary to the most basic rules of fairness, for organizing a peaceful commemoration ceremony, Diana Semaan, Acting Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International, said:
“After more than two years of arbitrary detention and a trial marred by numerous violations of due process guarantees, the Saudi authorities continue to prosecute these 10 Nubian Egyptians for simply exercising their right to freedom of expression and assembly in organizing an event for their community and creating an organization to represent it.
These 10 Nubian Egyptians must be released immediately and all charges against them must be dropped
Diana Semaan, Amnesty International
“These men should never have been arrested, let alone tried by the Special Criminal Court, the notorious anti-terrorism court. They must be released immediately and all charges against them must be dropped. Some of them are elderly and suffer from health problems such as diabetes and heart problems. Saudi authorities must ensure that they have full access to health care while awaiting their release.
“We must put an end to this travesty of justice. The authorities must also stop criminalizing the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and peaceful association, including by ethnic minorities such as the Nubian community in Saudi Arabia. These 10 men are long-term residents of the country, and the Saudi authorities must respect their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. »
These 10 men were first arrested on the morning of an event they had planned to hold on October 25, 2019 to commemorate the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. On December 25, 2019, they were released without charge, with prohibition to leave the territory pending the outcome of the procedure. They were arrested again in July 2020 and held incommunicado, without being able to communicate with their families or their lawyers, for the first two months of their detention.
The 10 Nubian Egyptians detained are: Adel Ibrahim Faqir, Farjallah Ahmed Youssef, Jamal Abdullah Masri, Mohamed Fathallah Gomaa, Sayyed Hashem Shater, Ali Gomaa Ali Bahr, Saleh Gomaa Ahmed, Abdulsalam Gomaa Ali Bahr, Abdullah Gomaa Ali and Wael Ahmed Hassan Ishaq. All are members of informal Nubian associations in Saudi Arabia.
At their first hearing before the Special Criminal Court, on November 10, 2021, they met their lawyer for the first time in almost 16 months. According to one of their relatives, they were charged with having created an association without authorisation, showing solidarity with the Muslim Brotherhood and publishing certain information on social networks.
During the second hearing, which took place on January 24, 2022, the defense attorney presented a file containing allegations that the “confessions” made by these men were obtained under duress. The prosecution contested this paragraph and the judge ordered that the lawyer modify it.
A hearing is scheduled before the Special Criminal Court in Riyadh on August 31, 2022.