Expelled Egyptian-Palestinian activist arrives in Paris

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FILE - In this undated image from the Free Ramy Shaath Facebook page, Ramy Shaath poses for a picture Jan. 2, 2015, in Cairo, Egypt.
FILE - In this undated image from the Free Ramy Shaath Facebook page, Ramy Shaath poses for a picture Jan. 2, 2015, in Cairo, Egypt.   -   Copyright  Free Ramy Shaath Facebook page via AP, File

Egyptian-Palestinian human rights activist Ramy Shaath arrived in Paris on Saturday after he was released from prison in Egypt and deported.

Shaath, the son of a well-known Palestinian politician, was reunited with his wife, Céline Lebrun Shaath, a French national.

“I am very excited to be here," Shaath said. Speaking in English, he described the network of overcrowded Egyptian prisons in which he had spent the last two and a half years as "lacking respect for human dignity.”

“I am continuing on my way. I am insisting on freeing my friends from Egyptian jails,” Shaath said.

“I have hope for a better Egypt," Shaath said. "I have hope for an independent and secure Palestine and I have hope for a better Middle East and a better world we live in.”

French President Emmanuel Macron in a tweet welcomed the decision to release him, saying he was “relieved” and thanking those who contributed.

Shaath was deported after spending 2.5 years of pre-trial detention over allegations of having ties with an outlawed group, his family said.

He renounced his Egyptian citizenship to gain freedom.

His father is Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The family says Ramy was handed over to a representative of the Palestinian Authority at Cairo international airport, where he boarded a flight to the Jordanian capital of Amman. He then travelled on to Paris.

There was no immediate comment from the Egyptian government.

Two years in detention

Ramy Shaath was arrested in July 2019 at his home in Cairo and accused of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government designated as a terrorist organisation in 2013.

A dual Palestinian-Egyptian national, he was added to a case that included a former lawmaker and key secular activists. They had been arrested about a month before Shaath and accused of collaborating with wanted Brotherhood members in Turkey to plot violence and riots.

Last year, he was added to the country’s terrorist list.

Ramy Shaath helped establish Egypt’s branch of the Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel, known as BDS.

The family statement said Egyptian authorities forced him to renounce his citizenship as a “precondition for his release.”

“No one should have to choose between their freedom and their citizenship. Ramy was born Egyptian ... . No coerced renunciation of citizenship under duress will ever change that,” the statement read.

Egyptian authorities have previously forced activists with dual nationality to relinquish their Egyptian citizenship as a condition for their release, a legal manoeuvre that allows authorities to deport foreigners accused of crimes.

In July 2020, Mohamed Amashah, a dual Egyptian-American citizen, was forced to renounce his Egyptian nationality to get released after he spent nearly 500 days in pre-trial dentition over charges of “misusing social media” and “aiding a terrorist group.”

Mohamed Soltan, also an American citizen and son of a Muslim Brotherhood leader, was released from an Egyptian prison in 2015 after he relinquished his Egyptian citizenship.