Egypt’s foreign ministry said on Saturday that it “rejects any false speculations or conclusions” regarding the investigation of a number of employees at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), especially since the investigation has not yet concluded.
The ministry released the statement after a number of Western countries – including France, Sweden, Germany and the US – expressed concerns over the EIPR employees’ arrest over the past few days.
“With regards to the reported reactions and false conclusions circulating in the media and social media platforms about the arrest of a number of employees at EIPR, which have been made before the conclusion of the investigations conducted by Egyptian judicial authorities, Egypt rejects any attempt to falsely influence the investigations that the public prosecution conducts with Egyptian citizens who face charges," the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.
Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Hafez affirmed in the statement that the Egyptian state respects the principles of the rule of law and equality, adding that the freedom of civil society to operate is guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution and the law.
Civil society work must be regulated by the relevant and applicable laws, and those who violate them must be held accountable, said Hafez, adding that no one is exempt or immune from the law.
Hafez also mentions the need to respect the principles of national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, as stipulated in the international law that governs relations between states.
Mohamed Bashir, the Executive Director of EIPR, was arrested on 15 November on terrorism charges, according to local media.
On Wednesday, Karim Ennarah, the head of the group's criminal justice department, was also reportedly arrested.
On Thursday, Head Director of the EIPR Gasser Abdel-Razek was arrested as well.
In a previous statement released on Wednesday, the Egyptian foreign ministry slammed the French foreign ministry’s condemnation of the arrest of the EIPR executive director, as the ministry said that it “regrets” how the French ministry’s statement did not respect Egyptian law and instead defended an entity “operating illegally in the civil society field.”
“The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights is registered as a company and performs activities in violation of the provisions of the law no.149 for the year 2019,” said the statement.