Days of Palestine

Saturday, June 3

Egypt frees activist Ramy Shaath after he abandons nationality


Egyptian authorities have freed Egyptian-Palestinian rights activist Ramy Shaath after more than 900 days of detention after forcing him to renounce his Egyptian nationality, his family said in a statement on Saturday.

The statement said Shaath, who is a co-founder of Egypt’s BDS movement, was released on the evening of Jan. 6 and handed to a representative of the Palestinian Authority in Cairo before being flown to Jordan.

His family said Egyptian authorities forced him to renounce his Egyptian nationality as a precondition for his release.

Shaath walked out of the Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport with his French wife, Celine Lebrun, on Saturday to cheers and shouts of “Welcome!
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“We made it!” the activist, now free, said.

“It’s a bit overwhelming, I’m very excited to be here,” he told reporters.

“I spent the last two-and-a-half years in between a few prisons, a few forced disappearance spots, some of them underground, some of them solely, some of them with huge numbers of people in a very inhumane way of treatment, in a very challenging way of living” he said.

There was no immediate comment from Egyptian authorities on the releases.

A statement from Shaath’s family said: “If we are glad that the Egyptian authorities heard our call for freedom, we regret that they forced Ramy to renounce his Egyptian citizenship as a precondition for his release that should have been unconditional.”

Shaath was arrested in Egypt in June 2019 and held in pre-trial detention alongside other activists on accusations of being a member of BDS.

His detention came amid a continuing crackdown on political dissent that has swept up liberal critics as well as Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Sisi and his supporters have said that there are no political prisoners in Egypt, and that security measures were necessary to stabilise the country after a 2011 uprising.

In a statement last month, several NGOs questioned President Emmanuel Macron on the fate of Shaath, a year after the French leader said he had brought up his case with Sisi.

However, Macron made it clear here at the time that human rights would not be a condition for economic and military ties with Cairo.

France said in May it would deliver 30 Rafale warplanes to Egypt from 2024 in a 4 billion euro ($4.8 billion) deal, as it strengthened its military partnership with Cairo.