Ahmed Seif El-Islam, rights lawyer and father of detained activist and blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah, provided evidence in support of his son’s innocence on a television appearance on Monday night. Abd El-Fattah has been charged by military prosecutors with instigating violence during the 9 October clashes in Cairo’s Maspero district.
In a telephone interview on the popular ONTV talk show Akhr Kalam with Yousri Fouda, Seif El-Islam said he possessed timed posts from his son’s Facebook and Twitter accounts confirming his absence from the Maspero area when the bloody clashes occurred.
Military prosecutors summoned Abd El-Fattah on 30 October for his alleged role in the violence. Charges leveled against him included the theft of military arms, destroying military property, and inciting violence against military personnel.
In a televised slideshow, Seif El-Islam showed a series of tweets posted by his son in the evening hours of 9 October at around the same time that his accusers have testified to seeing him at the scene.
The first tweet displayed on the slideshow, made by Abd El-Fattah at 6:21pm on the night of the clashes, asked in Arabic: “Is there really shooting at the Coptic protest?”
According to Seif El-Islam, this tweet, documented by the internet clock, can be considered proof that his son had not been present at the demonstration – and that he had not even been aware of the shooting.
This contradicts, Seif El-Islam said, testimony by some eyewitnesses who claimed they saw Abd El-Fattah in the area stealing weapons from the army at 5:30pm.
In another tweet posted by Abd El-Fattah at 7:50pm, the blogger said he was riding the Cairo metro from Giza to Dokki en route to Maspero, suggesting that he arrived at Maspero hours after the time that witnesses claim he did.
Seif El-Islam added that his son had made a phone call to his mother before going to the protest, a claim which, the father noted, could have been easily confirmed by the cellphone company had investigators been “serious” about looking at evidence.
Seif El-Islam added that one eyewitness had claimed to have seen Abd El-Fattah at the scene with fellow activist Wael Abbas. He went on to note, however, that he possessed proof that Abbas had been at Cairo International Airport at the time, having just returned from Tunisia.
Seif El-Islam said that presenting his evidence to the media was a “last resort,” going on to point to a “strange laxness” on the part of authorities in taking evidence that might prove his son’s innocence.
He added that, while several alleged eyewitnesses who delivered testimony against Abd El-Fattah had already testified, eleven witnesses that he had called on to deliver testimony which could clear his son had yet to be summoned by investigators.
Seif El-Islam is now demanding that an independent judge handle the case so as evidence can be properly assessed.
Notably, the High State Security Emergency Court, to which Abd El-Fattah’s case has been referred, is an exceptional court that does not take appeals on final verdicts.
On 22 November, Egypt’s ruling military council referred those accused of involvement in both the Maspero clashes to civil, rather than military, prosecutors.
The High State Security Court, however, later added the charge of “premeditated murder with the intention of committing an act of terrorism” to the list of charges arrayed against Abd El-Fattah.
In a related development on Tuesday, Abd El-Fattah’s wife, activist Manal Hassan, gave birth to the couple’s first child.
The couple had earlier agreed to name the boy Khaled after Khaled Said, the young man who was brutally beaten to death by Alexandria police in 2010 before becoming an icon of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution.