Writer Mahmoud Imam

– Dressed in white, he stood alone leaning on a concrete column in Al-Khanka Court’s fifth floor, handcuffed with wandering half-frightened eyes, but they are not.

– Surrounded by a group of security men in black uniforms, he asked me what the chief prosecutor will do while considering his detention renewal hearing, so it tried so hard to reassure him that it is only a matter of time.

– This was before I was surprised to find out that the Public Prosecution who is looking into his detention order adopts a hostile stance against him because of his ‘profane language’- as they said later, causing all reasons for hope inside me, which I thought I am good at bringing up as a lawyer, to collapse.

– In the evening of 11 April 2018, a police force accompanied by some forces of the National Security broke into the house of writer Mahmoud Imam at Al-Gabal Al-Asfar region in Qalyubiya governorate. They took him to al-Khosos police station and then to al-Khosos Prosecution at al-Khanka Court in the morning of this day. They accused him of joining a terrorist group established contrary to the provisions of the law, which aims at overthrowing the regime, and publishing and broadcasting false news and information, under communiqué No. 1959 of 2018 (Al-khosos Administrative).

– After interrogating him that day, al-Khosos Prosecution ordered Imam to appear before it the next day, along with the National Security’s investigations, which we now know, of course, what they will involve about any citizen who is arrested and is under their grip. Yes, it is exactly what has come to your mind right now (the validity of the incident).

– The next day, the Prosecution has already decided to hold him in pre-trial detention for 15 days!

– When I arrived at al-Khanka Court to attend Imam’s detention hearing, there was an elderly lady waiting for me. I know from her eagerness, curiosity, anxiety and the warmth of her welcoming that she was his mother. She did not miss a single moment in her son’s case hearings despite the long distance between her home and al-Khanka court; as the court was considering her son’s detention renewal every 15 days, and then it became every 45 days before the criminal court in Banha Court.

– Days prior to his arrest, Mahmoud Imam was planning to hold a signing ceremony for his second new book at the Alexandria International Book Fair 2018. The book is entitled “Tales of Elephant Marzouk…A journey with Al-Mahrousa (Egypt the protected) stories”. It contains a collection of tales of some historical incidents narrated by Imam through a pleasurable and interesting writing style. The book is for anyone who is concerned with the stories and tales of this homeland but unfortunately the writer himself became now part of these stories.

– Mahmoud Imam’s first book was entitled “Sun between fogs…The secrets of the January Revolution”.

– After al-Khosos (district) Prosecution had renewed writer Mahmoud Imam’s detention for a third time in a row on 6 May 2018, I- in my capacity as a lawyer- requested to appeal the detention order issued by the Prosecution, which -if accepted- will be considered by the criminal court, which in turn shall issue its decision, whether to reject the appeal, and therefore ordering the continuation of Imam’s detention, or accept the appeal ordering his release.

– I managed to submit the appeal, and a hearing was set to consider it at Banha Criminal Court. Being his lawyer, I had hope that the appeal would be accepted and that Imam’s release would be ordered by the criminal court, even if it was on bail, particularly since Mahmoud Imam is not involved in any acts of violence nor did he incite to violence. On the contrary, he is a writer who is fond of the history of this country and has helped spread and simplify it to the general public. However, I was surprised at the court asking me in a cynical way about the reason for submitting the appeal. In turn, I replied that it is the right of a defendant to appeal his imprisonment decision at any time, and if rejected, he has the right to file another appeal every 30 days, as stipulated in Article 166 of Egypt’s Criminal Procedure Code. The head of the chamber then replied “I too have the right to reject your appeal”, which is what happened!

– Writer Mahmoud Imam had been held in detention for a period of time inside al- Khosos police station until he was transferred to Banha public prison, where he has been detained until now.

– On 21 November 2018, Banha Criminal Court decided to renew the detention of Imam for another 45 days.

– Freedom for Mahmoud Imam and for every opinion maker who is neither implicated in violence nor incited to it. Freedom for all prisoners of conscience whether we know them or not.

Abdallah Tantawi