Amnesty International on Thursday accused Egypt’s National Security Agency of attempting to harass and intimidate human rights defenders into silence.
The London-based rights group interviewed 28 people who disclosed that the NSA, which handles terrorism and political cases, threatened them with arrest and prosecution unless they attended police interrogations. The report says the intimidation tactics have increased over the past two years, with thousands of activists impacted.
According to Amnesty, those summoned were questioned about their political views, including opinions expressed on social media. If they failed to show up for questioning, their homes were raided.
Interviewees told Amnesty they were “living in constant fear of being detained by the NSA,” and as a result, most were too scared to participate in political activities. Some are now in exile.
“This new NSA tactic of persistent intimidation and harassment of activists, lawyers and NGO workers is one that is destroying lives. It prevents them from working, traveling and means they live under constant fear of arrest,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the region. “NSA officials’ questions and threats reveal one clear objective: to stifle human rights and political activism.”
The rights group said the NSA’s tactics violate international law and standards, as well as the Egyptian constitution and Code of Criminal Procedures. Amnesty called on the UN Human Rights Council to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism on Egypt and for the country’s public prosecutor to investigate the NSA’s practices.
“Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the minister of interior must end this extrajudicial harassment of human rights defenders and activists,” Luther said.