Press Releases

Egypt Human Rights Caucus Co-Chairs’ Statement On The Persecution of Egyptian Civil Rights Activist Hossam Bahgat

Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), co-chairs of Congress’ Egypt Human Rights Caucus, issued the following statement today on the Egyptian government’s persecution of human rights activist and journalist Hossam Bahgat:

“The criminal investigation of Hossam over a 2020 tweet is preposterous, but unfortunately not a surprise. Hossam’s peaceful criticism of the former president of the Egyptian elections commission is fully protected under the Egyptian law and constitution. But the story is much darker than that:  Hossam’s persecution fits a pattern of Egyptian government harassment directed at human rights advocates that sometimes meet with foreign dignitaries to discuss human rights concerns.

“In late 2020, following a meeting with foreign ambassadors, the Egyptian police launched a ‘terrorism’ investigation of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (now led by Hossam), froze their accounts, and arrested several staff. In Hossam’s case, his targeting follows a meeting in April 2021 with US Secretary of State Tony Blinken. As such, this politically-motivated persecution can only be interpreted as a direct affront to American diplomacy and efforts to elevate the work of peaceful civil society around the globe.

“We urge the Biden Administration to raise Hossam’s case at the highest levels with the Egyptian government, including concerns about the timing of such actions. We will also continue to work with Biden Administration to define strict guidelines governing the release of taxpayer-funded security assistance that is conditioned on improvements on the human rights crisis facing the Egyptian people. Finally, we call on the Egyptian government to uphold the liberties protected under its own constitution, as a first step in demonstrating its commitment to improving human rights conditions.”

Hossam Bahgat is the Executive Director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), a leading civil and human rights advocacy organization. Hossam has been summoned to the Public Prosecutor’s office on June 16 over a complaint filed by the acting president of the commission. Bahgat’s tweet criticized the conduct of the former, now deceased, National Election Commission president, holding him responsible for the widespread fraud in last year’s parliamentary elections.