Egyptian Web Designer Mustafa Gamal Ordered Freed
Release order comes days after PEN America called for release of writers and artists held in pre-trial detention
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(New York, NY) – PEN America was heartened to learn today that Egyptian designer Mustafa Gamal has been ordered released from pre-trial detention in Egypt. Originally detained in connection with a music video critical of Egypt’s government, his release comes just days after PEN America led a global coalition calling for the release of all pre-trial detainees being held unjustly in Egypt and a full investigation into the death of the music video’s director Shady Habash.
“We are overjoyed at the news that Egyptian designer Mustafa Gamal has been ordered released,” said Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “Over two years ago, Mustafa was arrested for merely verifying the Facebook page of exiled musician Ramy Essam, who that year produced a music video critical of Egypt’s government. While we are overjoyed that Mustafa will be free, we lament that Mustafa’s freedom comes nearly a month after the death of Shady Habash, also arrested and held in connection with Essam’s video. After Shady’s tragic passing, PEN America joined over sixty organizations around the world to call for Mustafa’s freedom and that of all other artists and writers in pre-trial detention. We are immensely grateful for the support and coordination of this global coalition. We only wish that it would not have taken Shady’s death to spur the Egyptian government to see humanity and free Mustafa.”
PEN America also continues to call for the release of poet and lyricist Galal El-Behairy, who collaborated on the song. He is currently serving a three-year sentence on egregious, trumped-up charges.
PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection, a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here. PEN America recently launched the inaugural Freedom to Write Index, which records and maps cases of imprisoned writers around the globe in an annual report.