Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim Conviction Overturned

4 December 2002

Dr. Ibrahim is a noted sociologist, civil society and human rights activist, and founder of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies in Cairo. Charges against Dr. Ibrahim included what the trial court termed his propagation of “false statements and biased rumors concerning some internal affairs in the country that could weaken the standing of the state” through his writings on behalf of freedom and civil society in the context of a democratic state. Other charges were clearly falsified allegations of embezzlement and accepting foreign government money without government approval in violation of a military decree.

The court ordered that Dr. Ibrahim be retried, for the second time since his first conviction in May 2001. The court stated that at least five of its members will serve on the panel. This is significant, in that it means that the appeals court wants to closely oversee the trial process.

Human rights and civil society organizations around the world have protested Dr. Ibrahim’s conviction and imprisonment, arguing that the charges were both specious and a violation of international covenants to which Egypt is a party that implement fundamental principles of freedoms of expression and association. They welcome the reversal of this conviction. Governments and intergovernmental organizations joined in the condemnation of the actions of the military court.

ICNL has joined the outcry against the Egyptian government’s actions in this matter. These include not only Dr. Ibrahim’s conviction and the convictions of his associate in the Ibn Khaldoun Center, but also the use of procedures that failed to meet any reasonable test of due process.

Both the EU and the United States government have applauded the court’s action in releasing Dr. Ibrahim and his co-defendants.

We expect that, if the new trial is conducted in accordance with the rule of law, Dr. Ibrahim and his colleagues will be soon free to speak and write in Egypt. They will work, as they always have, on behalf of freedom, democratic principles, and an open civil society.