The defense team for Esraa al-Taweel dismissed a report by the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) that claimed the detained student confessed to conspiring to assassinate an unidentified official.
A statement by Taweel’s defense team reiterated that the only official charges against her are for belonging to an illegal group and providing photographs depicting violence to foreign entities.
On Sunday, MENA reported that Taweel told the prosecution she began working with members of the Muslim Brotherhood on the assassination plot following the violent dispersal of the 2013 Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in, to avenge the death of her friend Asmaa al-Beltagy. She also allegedly confessed to participating in several of the group’s protests.
“We don’t know where MENA got this news,” the statement asserted, explaining that the only body responsible for leveling charges is the National Security Prosecution, and if the information is from the investigation, it must have been previously ignored.
In her alleged confession, Taweel also told prosecutors that Sohaib Mohamed, who was arrested with her in June, planted cameras in the building where the official worked to assist in the plan, adding that her sister Duaa al-Taweel also worked in the building.
According to her defense team, which include lawyers Halem Henish, Taher Aboul Nasr, Mohamed al-Baqer and Ahmed Othman, the only defendant in the case is Esraa.
“Why would you include other names like her sister Duaa and Sohaib?” the statement asked. “This makes us wonder if they also face any charges in the case. If they are involved in crimes, then why weren’t they summoned for investigations?”
Her defense team emphasized that they haven’t been permitted access to the case files, despite lodging five requests to do so, raising questions over the reasons behind making the case documents available to the media.
“This prompts us to deny this news and consider it rumors until we get a copy of the case documents,” the statement said.
Taweel was shot in the back on January 25, 2014, when security forces dispersed a protest marking the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising. The bullet inflicted a debilitating spinal injury that temporarily paralyzed her legs. She was confined to a wheelchair for several weeks, but as she received intensive medical treatment and physical therapy, she was gradually able to walk with the aid of crutches. Her family says that progress is being undone due to medical neglect in detention.
The 23-year-old was arrested with her friends Sohaib Mohamed and Amr Ali outside a Cairo restaurant on June 1. She has now been jailed for over three months on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization and disseminating false information to foreign entities.
Following Taweel’s arrest, her whereabouts were unknown for two weeks until she was sighted at Qanater Women’s Prison, where she remains to this day. Her pre-trial detention has repeatedly been extended pending investigations.