Statement by CEU President and Rector Michael Ignatieff on the Case of Ahmed Samir Santawy

Yesterday, February 23, 2021, the Supreme State Security Prosecutor in Cairo charged CEU student Ahmed Samir Santawy with ‘funding a terrorist organization.’ The prosecutor did not specify which terrorist organization or present any evidence to support the charge. Ahmed was remanded into custody in Liman Tora prison. Ahmed has been held incommunicado since his detention on February 1. He has no access to visits by his family or legal counsel.

For three weeks, CEU has been working with Austrian and American authorities, the European Union and UN human rights bodies to secure Ahmed’s release. Requests for his release have been presented to Egyptian officials in Cairo and to Egyptian embassies in Vienna, Brussels and Washington. CEU remains grateful to all of the authorities who have assisted us in making the case for Ahmed’s immediate release and we appreciate the support Ahmed has received from Austrian universities and student associations.

The continued detention of one of our students, on obscure charges, without evidence, in harsh and inhumane conditions, is a flagrant violation of the rule of law and of basic human rights principles. Once again, we call on the Egyptian authorities to release Ahmed Samir Santawy immediately and allow him to resume his studies in Vienna.

We call upon our sister universities and research institutes, learned societies, and all those committed to academic freedom everywhere to join us in delivering a strong message of support for Ahmed's rapid release.