On 24 December 2019, Khaled Lotfy’s final possible appeal against his five-year sentence was rejected. His publishing house was then excluded from the biggest book fair in Egypt.
On 24 December 2019, the Egyptian Military Court of Cassation, following 11 postponements, finally rejected Egyptian publisher Khaled Lotfy’s final possible appeal against his 5-year prison sentence for publishing an Egyptian edition of Uri Bar Joseph’s The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel. Only a Presidential pardon can now free Khaled Lotfy from prison.
Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: It is incomprehensible that Khaled Lotfy can be imprisoned, not only for publishing a book, but for publishing a new version of a book that was already available. His only chance of freedom is a Presidential pardon, and we implore President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to release Khaled so that he can be reunited with his family.
The Tanmia Bookshop and Tanmia Publishing House were then excluded by the organisers of Cairo International Book Fair, citing security concerns. Cairo International Book Fair is the major Egyptian publishing industry event of the year and as a fair open to the general public it is also a key sales moment for Egyptian publishers.
Tanmia was informed of the decision in December, just before the result of the appeal. The International Publishers Association contacted the Cairo International Book Fair in early January, urging them to change their position and show solidarity with Tanmia.
Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee said: It is so disappointing to see that Cairo International Book Fair is unable to show its support for Khaled Lotfy by giving his publishing house a stand at the fair. I repeat my call for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to grant Khaled Lotfy a Presidential Pardon and encourage publishers and booksellers worldwide to show their support for Khaled.
Khaled Lotfy received the IPA’s Prix Voltaire in May 2019. He was sentenced by a military Court in April 2019 to five years in prison for spreading rumours and revealing military secrets as a result of publishing a cheaper, Arabic language, Egyptian edition of The Angel: The Egyptian Spy Who Saved Israel. The book was originally translated into Arabic by the Lebanon-based Arab Scientific Publishers and had been available in Egypt as a relatively expensive import. It was also turned into a successful Netflix film under the title The Angel, and is available internationally, including in Egypt. Around 2000 unsold printed copies of the Egyptian edition were destroyed by Lotfy ahead of the military trial.
In Khaled Lotfy’s speech, read out by his brother at the Prix Voltaire award ceremony in Seoul in June 2019, he stated.
I thank God who made me choose the most humane profession in history, a profession which enables me to help share and spread culture, while at the same time both creating and above all raising awareness.
At the IPA General Assembly in Frankfurt in 2019 he also said.
Since nearly two years my life, the life of my family, of all the people around me and everyone who loves me has stopped for no reason. I wish for an end to that. I want to see “Tanmia” and my young girls grow up together at the same time. I want to get out of here.