Vienna, July 30, 2022
Statement by CEU President and Rector Shalini Randeria
I am overjoyed that our student Ahmed Samir Santawy has been released today, following the pardon from the Egyptian President. We breathe a sigh of relief that his ordeal has ended after 18 months in prison under horrendous conditions, in contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
We extend our sincere gratitude to all who supported him and us through their involvement in the #FreeAhmedSamir movement at CEU and beyond.
We are immensely grateful for the extraordinary diplomatic efforts of Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, Secretary General Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal, and the Austrian Foreign Ministry, without which Ahmed would not have walked free today. We also greatly appreciate the strong support of government officials across the European Union.
We are sincerely grateful for the continuous advocacy of Amnesty International Austria as well as The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, Scholars at Risk, the Threatened Scholars Integration Initiative, and the many other organizations supporting the campaign to free Ahmed. My fellow rectors across Austria, the Austrian National Union of Students and numerous higher education institutions and students' associations across Europe and around the globe have been invaluable in supporting our campaign too. We thank you all.
Ahmed was jailed for merely exercising his freedom of opinion and expression as a researcher and as a citizen. While we celebrate his release and that of Patrick Zaki, we are well aware of the many other scholars who continue to be imprisoned and persecuted, such as Waleed Salem, the University of Washington PhD student. We are thus aware that there is much more work to be done to protect academic freedom.
Today we rejoice with Ahmed, his family, and Souheila Yildiz, who is his partner and who worked tirelessly to secure Ahmed’s release. Ahmed, we look forward to welcoming you back to your studies for the beginning of term in Vienna!