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Ramy Shaath and wife

Egyptian-Palestinian activist Ramy Shaath holds up the arm of his wife, Céline Lebrun Shaath, as he arrives at France's Roissy airport on January 8, 2022 after being detained in Egypt for more than two years. (Photo: Julien de Rosa/AFP via Getty Images)

'Our Fight Is Not Over': Egyptian-Palestinian Rights Activist Ramy Shaath Freed After 900+ Days

"I had hope, and I continue to have hope," said the co-founder of Egypt's BDS movement. "I have hope for a better Middle East and a better world that we live in."

Jessica Corbett

The family of Egyptian-Palestinian rights activist Ramy Shaath said Saturday that they "are relieved and overjoyed" to announce he is free after more than 900 days of "unjust detention under inhumane conditions" in Egypt.

"Two-and-a-half years later, I still have all my resolve and my determination to continue."

Earlier this week, "Egyptian authorities released Ramy and delivered him to the representative of the Palestinian Authority at Cairo's international airport," the family's statement continued, explaining that he was headed to France to reunite with his wife, Céline Lebrun Shaath, a French national who lobbied her government to pressure Egypt to release him.

"We regret that they forced Ramy to renounce his Egyptian citizenship as a precondition for his release," the statement added. "No one should have to choose between their freedom and their citizenship. Ramy was born Egyptian, raised as an Egyptian, and Egypt has always been and will always be his homeland; no coerced renunciation of citizenship under duress will ever change that."

Shaath's late mother was Egyptian and his father, a former Palestinian government minister, holds dual citizenship, according to the campaign to free the longtime activist. He co-founded Egypt's Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a global Palestinian-led effort promoting such actions against Israel due to human rights violations.

As Deutsche Welle reports:

In July 2019, the activist was arrested at his home in Cairo. He had been accused of being affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, which Egypt designated as a terrorist organization in 2013.

His detention, alongside other activists, came amid a crackdown on political dissent, which also targeted liberal and Islamist critics of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi.

Last year, he was added to Egypt's terrorist list.

Shaath's supporters argue that his detention was retaliation for his political and human rights activism, highlighting that he was "harassed by the Egyptian authorities for years" before his arrest.

His family's statement thanked "all the volunteers, the human rights organizations, public figures, and thousands of citizens from the Arab region, diaspora, and the world who advocated for his release," as well as "the hundreds of lawmakers and government officials who publicly and privately championed Ramy's case, particularly those who have done so steadfastly and against all odds in France, Europe, and the United States."

Multiple members of Congress welcomed his release. U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said he was "elated" and vowed that "we will not stop fighting until ALL political prisoners are free!"

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) shared a video of Shaath from Amnesty International France and pointed out that the activist similarly pledged to keep fighting for those still detained in Egypt.

"Two-and-a-half years later, I still have all my resolve and my determination to continue," said Shaath, who described his detention conditions as "inhumane" and "challenging."

While thanking everyone who advocated for his freedom—including French President Emmanuel Macron, who welcomed the development on Twitter—Shaath emphasized that "our fight is not over."

"I am full of hope. I had hope, and I continue to have hope," he said. "I have hope for a better Egypt; I have hope for prisoners out of prison; I have hope for an independent and secure Palestine; and I have hope for a better Middle East and a better world that we live in."

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