In May 2001, Saad Eddin Ibrahim was sentenced to seven years imprisonment in Egypt for writing about human rights and democracy.
The government accused him of tarnishing the nation’s image abroad and accepting foreign money without government approval. In fact, the charges were a pretext to punish Ibrahim for peacefully expressing his opinions.
In December 2002, Egypt’s highest appeal court overturned Ibrahim’s conviction and he was released from prison. But Ibrahim is not entirely free. In an ongoing campaign of harassment, he faced yet another trial in early 2003. During this third trial before Egypt’s highest civil court in 2003, he was cleared of all charges and released, but not before a storm of international protest had put the Mubarak regime on the defensive.
Saad Eddin Ibrahim is a prominent human rights defender in Egypt. He and 27 others at the Ibn Khaldun Centre for Development Studies were arrested in 2000 when they announced they would monitor parliamentary elections.
When Ibrahim was imprisoned in 2001, Amnesty immediately called for his unconditional release. And when Amnesty heard that Ibrahim was despondent in prison, we mobilized children around the world to send him greetings of solidarity and hope.
Ibrahim greatly valued this support – from members of Amnesty International and other organizations. When an Amnesty delegation met him in prison in 2000, he told them:
“I must say how great Amnesty International is as a global institution. The letters I received came from around the world – from Amnesty members in Japan, Argentina, Chile, Canada and all points in between.
“And the most touching ones were from children and youngsters. It was tremendous, it was moving and it has helped keep my morale high.”