Government Extends Detention for Egyptian Coptic Christian Activist

Coptic activist Rami Kamil | Coptic Solidarity
Coptic activist Rami Kamil |

Egyptian authorities once again postponed the trial of a Coptic Christian activist convicted of "outrageous charges" in November, according to a persecution watchdog group.

Two months have passed since Cairo's plainclothes police raided the home of Christian activist Rami Kamil in the early morning hours. He was arrested and reportedly charged with joining a terrorist group and spreading false information.

However, supporters argue that Kamil was targeted because of his advocacy of human rights and religious freedom. Kamil is a member of the Maspero Youth Union, an activist group that fights for equality and civil rights for the Coptic community. He also wrote about the abuses Christians suffered in Egypt.

The Christian Solidarity Worldwide(CSW) reported that Kamil was scheduled to appear at the Supreme State Security Prosecution(SSSP) on Jan. 19, but on the day of the hearing, he learned that the Interior Ministry did not bring Kamil to the SSSP Office from Tora Prison.

According to CSW, it is not the first time that a government ministry has failed to move Kamil from prison to hearing, estimating it is aimed at prolonging legal proceedings against Kamil and increasing psychological pressure.

In response, CSW believes there are several "procedural unlawfulness" that the detention has been extended again amid a situation where it is not even certain when the next hearing is scheduled, even though Kamil has not been formally charged with criminal charges.

Mervin Thomas Chief Executive said in a statement that "Kamil's detention appears to be an effort to punish him for his work as a human rights advocate," stressing that he "requires his immediate and unconditional release and due process."

SSSP officials are also accused of blocking Kamil's lawyers from accessing documents related to the client's case.

"We need to allow Kamil's lawyers access to all documents and testimonies related to the case for a proper defense," Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Egypt ranks number 16 on the World Watch List, according to the Open Doors USA.