Citizens International

Lawyers for detained Egyptian photographer decry ‘smear campaign’


Wednesday 11 November 2015 11:05 UTC


Esraa al-Taweel’s defence team say that, though she reportedly confessed to assassination plot, charges against her have not changed

Esraa al-Taweel, 23, has been detained for more than 150 days, charged with belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood (Facebook)

Lawyers defending a young Egyptian photojournalist say reports that she confessed to an assassination plot are part of a “smear campaign” against her.

Esraa al-Taweel, a 23-year-old freelance photographer and university student, is facing two charges including one of belonging to the now outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

However, on Monday Egypt’s state-owned MENA news agency reported that Taweel had confessed to plotting with the Muslim Brotherhood to assassinate a high-level official in a suicide mission.

According to the agency’s report, Taweel had planned to attend a wedding with an explosive device hidden in her camera. Media reports also stated that she had confessed to “spreading spying equipment”.

In response, Taweel’s legal team stressed that, despite her reported confessions, the charges levelled against her have not been changed.

The lawyers said in a statement that she remained detained on two charges: belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and disseminating false information to foreign entities.

Her team said they were “surprised” by reports of the alleged confession, dubbing the media coverage as part of “an ongoing smear campaign… aimed at crushing the public’s sympathy for her”.

Images of Taweel went viral last week when she cried in court as a judge ruled to extend her detention for another 45 days.

Taweel had already been detained for 155 days, the first two weeks of which were spent in an unknown location without the authorities informing relatives of her arrest.

Taweel is permanently disabled and in need of physiotherapy after she was shot in the spine while taking photographs of a protest in January 2014.

After her pre-trial detention was extended, her father, Mahfouz, warned of “the weakness and incapacity that may afflict her legs should she miss her physiotherapy”.

Following her reported confession, Taweel was attacked by pro-government media outlets.

Ahmed Moussa, a popular television anchor known to be close to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, on Tuesday called her a “terrorist girl”.

“They are official confessions, documented,” Moussa said. “She said that she used to go down and take photos of demonstrations and sell them to channels supportive of terrorism. You can’t sympathise with terrorists – I’m talking to people working in the media.”


Wednesday 11 November 2015 11:05 UTC