The defence team of detained photojournalist Esraa El-Taweel issued a statement Monday denying news reports related to alleged confessions by El-Taweel as “rumours”, pending access to the case documents.
The news reports claimed El-Taweel admitted in her statements her involvement in protest activity, planting spying devices, and attempting to murder a high-ranking state official using a bomb implanted in a camera’s body.
El-Taweel’s defence team reaffirmed that she was only accused of two charges, namely belonging to an outlawed group and publishing false reports that distort Egypt’s reputation. Further accusations that appeared in the published testimonies are baseless since the prosecution did not charge the defendant with them, meaning that they were considered “fabrications” by the prosecution.
Lawyer Halim Henish of the defence team said he did not think the incident would affect Esraa’s case, as the case is confined to the charges levelled by the prosecution only.
Duaa El-Taweel, Esraa’s sister, and Sohaib Saad Al-Haddad, who had disappeared alongside Esraa on the day of her arrest, were also mentioned in the testimonies as accomplices in the case.
Duaa El-Taweel could not be reached for comment.
The statement further questioned the source upon which MENA news agency relied to obtain such information, adding that the defence team itself was yet to access the case documents, despite several requests.
The only entity that can release information regarding the case is the Homeland Security Prosecution, according to the statement.
“This is part of an ongoing smear campaign targeting Esraa, amid attempts by state agencies to influence popular support for the case and to cover up for her deteriorating health condition,” the statement read.
The Supreme Court of State Security decided to renew El-Taweel’s detention a week ago; the latest in a series of renewals since her arrest in June. Henish said they would issue an appeal calling for her release.
Images of Esraa sobbing during the court session sparked wide sympathetic reactions. An online petition was launched by local activists and rights groups to call for her release. Others took screenshots of her previous tweets expressing support for the Brotherhood sit-in in Rabaa Al-Adaweya.
Esraa is suffering from a bullet injury in her leg and spine. She was shot while taking photographs during a protest on the 25 January Revolution’s second anniversary in 2012. She was bedridden for five months and used a wheelchair for six months. Through physiotherapy, she had made some progress and began to use a crutch, according to family members.
In mid-October, the prosecution ordered examinations on Esraa’s medical condition in order to decide on her detention renewal. The medical report stated that there was no issue with retaining El-Taweel in detention as her condition is stable, despite it documenting that the 23-year-old is in need of physiotherapy. However, Esraa is not receiving the required physiotherapy for her injury inside prison, which could lead to a relapse, according to her sister Alaa.
El-Taweel, 23, disappeared on 1 June and was found in Al-Qanater Women’s prison two weeks later. She spoke in a letter from prison of being blindfolded and interrogated for 15 days during the period in which she had been forcibly disappeared.