Waleed K. Salem is a doctoral candidate at the University of Washington who was arrested while conducting dissertation research in Cairo in May 2018 and detained without charge until December 2018. Following his release, he has been required to regularly report to a police station and a security office and has been told that he is not permitted to leave Egypt.
Scholars at Risk has issued the below letter to Egyptian officials, urging them to allow Mr. Salem to freely work and travel inside and outside of Egypt.
His Excellency Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
President, Arab Republic of Egypt
Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar
Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research
September 5, 2019
Re: Probationary Measures against University of Washington PhD Student Waleed K. Salem
Your Excellencies President al-Sisi and Dr. Abdel Ghaffar:
I write on behalf of the Scholars at Risk Network to express deep concern about ongoing probationary measures against Waleed K. Salem, a doctoral student from the University of Washington who has been barred from leaving Egypt in apparent retaliation for his academic activity.
Scholars at Risk (SAR) is an international network of over 500 universities and colleges in nearly 40 countries dedicated to promoting academic freedom and its constituent freedoms of thought, opinion, expression, association and travel. In cases like that of Waleed K. Salem, involving alleged infringement of these freedoms, SAR conducts its own investigation, hoping to clarify and resolve matters favorably.
Waleed K. Salem is an Egyptian national and a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Washington. In September 2017, he moved to Cairo to begin field research, while affiliated with the American University of Cairo, for a dissertation on the development of the Egyptian judiciary. SAR understands that Mr. Salem was arrested in May 2018 based on accusations about the nature and aims of his research, and was detained until December 2018. Mr. Salem was not formally charged with a crime. Following his release, Mr. Salem was made subject to several apparently open-ended probationary measures, including reporting to a police station twice a week and to a state security office once a week. He has also been told he is not permitted to leave Egypt.
Restrictions on Mr. Salem’s travel have hindered his ability to complete his PhD and have also prevented him from seeing his 11-year-old daughter, who lives with her mother in Europe.
Absent additional information that may clarify our understanding, the facts as described suggest that Mr. Salem was detained and made subject to probationary measures in retaliation for his nonviolent expressive and academic activity – conduct that is expressly protected under international human rights instruments including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Egypt is a party. Retaliatory action in connection to such activity raises concerns about protection for academic freedom, higher education space, and democratic society generally in Egypt.
SAR therefore respectfully urges Egyptian authorities to remove all probationary measures on Mr. Salem and allow him to freely work and travel inside and outside of Egypt. We thank you for your attention to this important matter and look forward to your response.
Cc: Ambassador Frank Ricciardone
President, American University of Cairo
Dr. Ehab Abdel-Rahman
Provost, American University in Cairo
Mr. Richard A. Bartlett
Chair, Board of Trustees
American University in Cairo
The Honorable Yasser Reda
Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United States
Mohamed Fathi Ahmed Edrees
Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations