Hazem Hamouda: Finally Going Home
Australian citizen Hazem Hamouda was held in an Egyptian prison without charge for over a year, until March 2019. Although his release was secured over three weeks ago, his was prevented from leaving the country by the Egyptian authorities. He only learned of the travel ban when he and his daughter, Saja, arrived at the airport in Cairo to board their fights. He was told he needed two documents: an ID card (which had been taken from him whilst he was in police custody) and a military exemption certificate because he had stayed in Egypt longer than 6 months. This was despite the fact the only reason for his extended stay in Egypt was the unlawful actions of the Egyptian authorities and his arbitrary and unjust detention in prison without charge.
Overnight, Mr Hamouda has finally been allowed to leave Egypt. He was accompanied to and at the airport by the Australian Ambassador to Egypt, at the request of Mr Hamouda and his legal team.
Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jen Robinson act for Mr Hamouda and his family. They said, “This marks the end to what has been a horrific 433 day ordeal for the Hamouda family – a family holiday which became a living nightmare. Throughout that time, Hazem and his family have tirelessly fought for his freedom and for his safe return home to Brisbane. It is testament to their dedication that Hazem is now safely away from Egypt."
They added, “However, we must remember that there are many more men and women still imprisoned in Egypt or banned from leaving Egypt based on spurious charges and often simply for peacefully expressing their opinions of President al-Sisi’s regime. Hazem’s case has shone a spotlight on al-Sisi’s repression and the immense damage it causes for those affected and their families".
“We are so relieved that Dad is finally on his way home safely,” said Lamisse Hamouda, one of Hazem’s children, who is based in Australia. “We’ve had extraordinary support from our pro bono legal team at Doughty Street Chambers, who leapt to Dad’s defence, barristers Jennifer Robinson and Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC, and we’re incredibly grateful to them.”
“All we want now is time to recover with Dad, and make sure that his re-entry is as easy as possible”, concluded Ms. Hamouda.
The press release from the Hamouda family can be found here.
More background to the case is available here.