We reject the malicious and unfounded allegations made against Dr Maha Abdelrahman in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper on 2 November 2017. Dr Abdelrahman is an internationally renowned scholar at Cambridge University. She supervised Giulio Regeni, an Italian PhD student researching Egyptian independent trade unions, who was abducted, brutally tortured and murdered in Cairo in early 2016 (Letters, 9 February 2016).
Despite strong evidence implicating Egypt’s security forces in Giulio’s murder, La Repubblica’s article suggests Dr Abdelrahman is responsible, alleging she commissioned Giulio to research a topic she knew was dangerous and that he was reluctant to pursue.
These allegations are absurd. Not only is this not how supervision works, but Giulio had been interested in independent trade unions for years, and had experience working in Egypt before he approached Dr Abdelrahman for supervision. Nor was there any indication at the time that this research posed a threat to life.
Repubblica also claims Dr Abdelrahman refused to talk to Italian authorities, which is false. Following interviews at Giulio’s funeral in February 2016 and written responses to questions on 15 June 2016, Dr Abdelrahman indicated she would answer any further questions in writing. Italian authorities sent no further communication until the recent request, to which Repubblica refers, and to which Dr Abdelrahman willingly agreed.
Neither Giulio nor Dr Abdelrahman were responsible for his death in any way. Those responsible for Giulio’s abduction, torture and murder are in Egypt, and responsibility to determine the truth falls squarely on the Egyptian regime, and it alone.
Prof Khaled Fahmy University of Cambridge, Prof Gilbert Achcar SOAS, University of London, Dr Andrea Teti University of Aberdeen, Dr Ruba Salih SOAS, University of London, Dr Anne Alexander University of Cambridge, Prof Lila Abu-Lughod Columbia University, Prof Sheila Carapico University of Richmond, Virginia, Prof Asef Bayat University of Illinois, Prof Ha-Joon Chang University of Cambridge, Prof John Keane Sydney Democracy Network, University of Sydney, Prof Laleh Khalili SOAS, University of London, Dr Paola Caridi Università di Palermo, Prof Ray Bush University of Leeds, Dr Duncan Bell University of Cambridge, Prof John Esposito Georgetown University, Prof Sandro Mezzadra Università di Bologna, Prof Armando Salvatore McGill University, Prof Glenda Sluga University of Sydney, Prof Neve Gordon Ben-Gurion University, Prof Sami Zemni University of Ghent. View full text and full list of 344 signatories at bit.ly/2AneYtG