Vigil for Detained CEU Student Ahmed Samir Santawy

May 4, 2022

The retrial of our student Ahmed Samir Santawy – currently imprisoned in Egypt on false charges – is scheduled to commence on Monday, May 9 in Cairo. In a show of solidarity, a vigil will be held that day starting at 12 pm in front of the Egyptian Embassy in Vienna.

CEU MA student Ahmed Samir Santawy was arrested in Cairo on February 1, 2021 and was charged with belonging to a terrorist organization and spreading false news on social media. He is currently remanded in the notorious Tora Prison, without a hearing or any legal representation. 

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. 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.

Once again, we call on the Egyptian authorities to release Ahmed Samir Santawy immediately and allow him to resume his studies in Vienna. We also 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. See the call by CEU’s Senate here. You can also see Statements of Support for Ahmed that we’ve collected since he has been detained.

For more information on the global campaign, please visit the #FreeAhmedSamir campaign on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Ahmed is not an isolated case. Patrick Zaki, an Egyptian student at the University of Bologna, was imprisoned in February 2020. Following a huge international campaign, Zaki was released in December 2021. The charges against him have not been dropped, and his next court date is scheduled for June 21. Walid Salem, a doctoral researcher at the University of Washington, was arrested in March 2018. He was released later that year, but his passport seized, and he is unable to return to his studies. These are but a few of the many researchers targeted in Egypt’s campaign against academic freedom.