(Beirut) – Armed men, who appear to have been security forces, physically attacked prominent Egyptian human rights lawyer Gamal Eid in Cairo on December 29, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. This was the second assault against Eid since October.
Eid, the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANRHI), told Human Rights Watch that in the morning when he left his home in Cairo’s Maadi district, three cars without license plates were waiting on the corner. Ten or twelve men then beat him to the ground, threatened him with pistols, and threw paint on his face and clothes. Eid said the attackers appeared to be in no hurry, and when neighbors tried to intervene, the men brandished their weapons and demanded they leave. The attackers did not rob Eid and referred to one man who appeared to be in charge as “pasha.” Eid said due to the nature of the attack, he believes the attackers were security officers or working under the direction of a security officer.
“This latest assault on Gamal Eid has the fingerprints of Egyptian security forces all over it,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “Repeated attacks against one of Egypt’s leading rights activists raises grave concerns about the possible involvement of Egypt’s leadership.”
Eid, 55, founded ANHRI in 2003 to promote freedom of expression and provide legal assistance to activists and journalists. ANHRI and Eid have received numerous international awards for their work on freedom of expression and press freedom in Egypt. In 2016, Egyptian authorities imposed a travel ban on Eid and a court ordered a freeze on his personal assets and the funds of his organization, along with other human rights defenders and organizations, in the 2011 “foreign funding” case.
On October 10, armed men in civilian clothes attacked Eid, leaving him with cracked ribs and other injuries. Eid said that several weeks later, on October 30, he received threatening calls and a text message saying “behave.” The next morning, he discovered that a car he was using was vandalized.