UK Markets closed

London wife’s joy as human rights activist husband freed from Cairo’s notorious ‘Scorpion’ jail

Anthony France
·3-min read
<p>Karim Ennarah with his mother after release</p> (Jessica Kelly)

Karim Ennarah with his mother after release

(Jessica Kelly)

The London wife of a human rights campaigner spoke of her relief on Friday as he was freed from a notorious Egypt jail on terrorism charges.

Karim Ennarah had been planning to move to the UK to escape the regime of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Mr Ennarah, who works for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, was arrested while on holiday in the Sinai resort town of Dahab earlier this month.

Jessica Kelly, 32, from east London, posted online: “I can’t describe the happiness and relief I feel.

“When I finally got to speak to him on the phone, we both burst into tears, but we quickly moved on to swapping stories and planning how we will see each other.

“I won’t rest easy until we’re back together and I’m hoping this will happen soon.”

An online petition demanding the release of Mr Ennarah, who turned 38 on Monday, reached more than 143,000 signatures.

Mrs Kelly added: “Karim is in awe of the support he has received.

Jessica Kelly
Jessica Kelly

“We’re so grateful to every single one of you who has signed the petition and helped in this campaign.”

Mr Ennarah, who completed a master’s degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London in 2016, was detained on November 18, two days after his mother’s home in Cairo was raided.

After his release, he was pictured with his “amazingly strong” mother.

Mrs Kelly said her husband spent the night “in a warm bed in the comfort of his family home”

Three other colleagues from the EIPR were also released, including Gasser Abdel-Razek, the group’s executive director.

All were held behind bars at Cairo’s Torah maximum security prison, nicknamed “the Scorpion” where they could have been held on remand for up to two years.

Inmates are often left without beds, mattresses, basic hygienic, humiliated and beaten, according to human rights lawyers.

Ms Kelly who married Mr Ennarah in September, said his spousal visa was being processed before he was due to fly to London by February.

The film director added in her post: “We are still waiting to know exactly what will happen next.

Jessica Kelly
Jessica Kelly

“We hope that the charges are completely dropped against all three men, and that the fourth EIPR staffer still in prison - Patrick George Zaki - will also be released soon.

“But, for now, all I can say is a gigantic thank you so much for all your amazing support. I’m so grateful that you helped get my husband free.”

Earlier the week Mrs Kelly told the Standard: “People really don’t appreciate how hostile it is in Egypt for anyone working in journalism, human rights or for anyone who has a different opinion to the regime.

“This is just the kind of human rights abuse Karim works on. He shouldn’t be punished for doing his job.

“I want to know why he’s been arrested and what the Egyptian state’s intentions are.”

Security forces have recently intensified a crackdown on human rights groups which began when former army chief el-Sisi took power in a 2013 military coup.

Ms Kelly lobbied Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to put international pressure on Egypt to release the detainees.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We have been in regular contact with the Egyptian authorities since the arrests took place, and the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has raised the issue directly with his Egyptian counterpart.

“The release of Gasser Abdel Razek, Karim Ennarah and Mohamed Basheer is a welcome step.

"We will continue to monitor their situation closely and stand up for human rights defenders across the world.

“It is no secret the UK wants to see political progress and better protection of human rights in Egypt."

Read More

Agony of London wife of Egyptian human rights activist held in Cairo

The Londoner: Wife’s thanks for 70,000 backing detained husband