The ICDR calls for the immediate release of prominent Egyptian activist Hisham Kassem

Prague, Forum 2000 Conference
October 17, 2023

On September 16th an Egyptian court sentenced prominent pro-democracy leader Hisham Kassem to six months in prison on trumped up charges of “defamation” and “contempt of officials” for his criticism of former Minister Kamal Abu Eita. This targeting immediately followed his public critique of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's governance.

The sentencing of Hisham Kassem for exercising his right to freedom of expression is part of a broader crackdown on pro-democracy activists in the context of forthcoming sham elections expected to solidify the rule of incumbent dictator al-Sisi. As the former publisher of the "Egypt Independent" newspaper and an independent commentator on Egyptian political developments, Mr. Kassem's unjust persecution and prosecution also demonstrate the shrinking space for civil society and the free press in Sisi's Egypt.

Now serving six months in prison and subject to a 20,000 Egyptian Pound fine, the targeting of Mr. Kassem is a case study of Egypt’s relentless and unjustified measures to mute peaceful critics. It is evident that the regime’s repressive actions to restrict freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly are continuing in full force, further intensifying the country’s deep-rooted human rights crisis.

We strongly condemn Egypt’s widespread and systematic attacks on peaceful dissent, and we will continue to shine a spotlight on the ongoing violations and abuses against our partners on the ground.

The International Coalition for Democratic Renewal stands in solidarity with our friend and colleague Hisham Kassem and calls for his immediate and unconditional release. 

An appeal hearing in his case was on October 7th, 2023, and the court confirmed the previous verdict. We strongly urge Egyptian authorities to demonstrate its proclaimed commitment to human rights reforms by securing his release.

Mr. Kassem is a peaceful activist whose unjust imprisonment brings shame on Egypt and underscores its ever-worsening human rights record. His release would be an act of good faith and an important confidence-building measure. As a Coalition bringing together the world's leading democratic voices, we urge immediate action to end this injustice.

Signatories as of October 17, 2023:

  • Tutu Alicante
  • Abdulwahab Alkebsi
  • Andreas Bummel
  • Ketevan Chachava
  • Aisha Dabo
  • Monica Dias
  • Edipcia Dubón
  • Evan Firoozi
  • Paul  Flather
  • Manuela Franco
  • Carl Gershman
  • Maiko Ichihara
  • Dolkun Isa
  • Erick Izaguirre
  • Ramin Jahanbegloo
  • Memory Kadau
  • Tinatin Khidasheli
  • Jakub Klepal
  • Miriam Kornblith
  • Péter Krekó
  • Arzu Kurtulus
  • Batu Kutelia
  • Sook Jong Lee
  • Lynn Lee
  • Jessica Ludwig
  • Jean Jacques Lumumba Luviya
  • Agon Maliqi
  • Anar Mammadli
  • Maria Marín Vázquez
  • Nyaradzo Mashayamombe
  • Ucha Nanuashvili
  • Andrea Ngombet
  • Martin Palouš
  • Babutsa Pataraia
  • Vesna Pusic
  • Rafaela Requesens
  • Niranjan Sahoo
  • Andrei Sannikov
  • Vasil Sikharulidze
  • Brandon Silver
  • Marek Svoboda
  • Nicolas Tenzer
  • Barbara von Ow-Freytag
  • Alissa Wahid
  • Damon Wilson
  • Qiang Xiao
  • Michael Zantovsky
  • Misha Zelinsky