Tora Prison

Tora Prison
سجن طرة
Tora Jail.jpg
LocationTora, Egypt
Security classSupermax, Maximum Security, General, Light
Managed byMinistry of Interior

Tora Prison (Egyptian Arabic: سجن طره Segn Tora; Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [seɡn tˤurˤɑ]) is an Egyptian prison complex for criminal and political detainees, located in Tora, Egypt. The complex is situated in front of the Tora El Balad metro station. The main buildings in the Tora Prison complex are Tora Agricultural Prison, Tora Liman (maximum security), Tora Istiqbal (reception), Tora El Mahkoum and Tora Supermax prison, also known as Scorpion Prison (Arabic: سجن العقرب Segn El ʿAqrab).[1]


Tora Agricultural Prison was established in 1928 by Wafdist Interior Minister Mostafa El-Nahas while he was the interior minister,[2] in an effort to ease overcrowding at Abu Zaabal Prison.[3]

On 1 June 1957, security guards at Tora Prison killed 21 Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt prisoners.[4][5]


Tora prison consists of seven blocks each holding approximately 350 prisoners, and are divided into sections such as political prisoners and criminals according to the severity of their crimes. There is a block for police officers and judges imprisoned on bribery charges, and a disciplinary block consisting of seven solitary confinement cells, two meters squared in size and some without light or ventilation. The prison walls are seven metres tall and are monitored by CCTV. The different sections of the prison are walled off from each other. After three prisoners from the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization implicated in the assassination of Anwar Sadat escaped in 1988, 2.5 meters were added to walls. Tora Prison has a small hospital overlooking a garden which is the block where businessmen and members of the Mubarak regime are held for corruption cases. The hospital is next to a football pitch and to a tennis court where the prisoners exercise. The prison has held some of Egypt's most high-profile prisoners. Some cells for long-term inmates are reminiscent of typical, if cramped, apartments (i.e. including a kitchenette, etc.).[6]

In 2014, a maximum security wing was built to hold political prisoners, whose numbers had started increasing since the July 2013 removal of Mohamed Morsi from office.[7]


Welcome parades, a technique used in Egyptian prisons in which new prisoners are physically and psychologically abused while crawling between two lines of policemen,[8][9] was used in Tora Prison in September 2019 during the 2019 Egyptian protests, when blogger Alaa Abd el-Fattah and his lawyer Mohamed el-Baqer of the Adalah Center for Rights and Freedoms were subjected to welcome parades following their 29 September arrests.[7][10]

There have been allegations that the prison was used for other forms of torture and that there was Mukhabarat (Egyptian intelligence services) complicity with CIA extraordinary rendition practices during the Mubarak presidency. Tora Prison may have operated in this capacity since 1995/96[citation needed] (being the most accessible of the few liman, i.e. maximum security prisons), making it one of the first of the black sites of George W. Bush's War on Terror.[11]

In December 2020, a detailed report by the Human Rights Watch highlighted the extensive changes introduced by the Egyptian authorities inside the Scorpion Prison of the Tora Prison complex. As part of collectively punishing nearly 800 to 900 prisoners, each cell of the Scorpion Prison’s four H-shaped building were modified to block all sources of ventilation, light and electricity from the cells. The report based on a three-page letter and a 13-minute video smuggled out of the prison, and three sources, including a lawyer, explained how the restrictions were further severed to torture the political prisoners inside these cells.[12]

Ramy Shaath, an outspoken Egyptian-Palestinian human rights defender was released from a two-and-a-half years’ long torturous detention in January 2022. Shaath became an easy target for the Egyptian authorities to arrest following his participation in the infamous 2011 pro-democracy protests in Egypt and his contribution to the foundation of the Egyptian branch of the boycott movement against Israel led by Palestinians. A vocal opponent of the Arab dictatorial system and the Israeli occupation over Palestinians, Shaath was subjected to torture, ill-treatment during his detention, detained in overcrowded prison cells, and forced to renounce his Egyptian citizenship to guarantee his release from the prison, despite wrongful detention.[13][14]

Notable inmates[]



  1. ^ Middle East Watch (Organization) (1993). Prison Conditions in Egypt. Human Rights Watch. ISBN 9781564320902.
  2. ^ Ghoneim, Haitham (2015-12-20). "The graveyard: An inside look into Scorpion Prison". Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  3. ^ "Egypt's interior ministry sends medical mission to Tora Prison". 2015-12-15. Retrieved 2021-03-31.
  4. ^ Toth, James (11 April 2013). Sayyid Qutb: The Life and Legacy of a Radical Islamic Intellectual. ISBN 978-0-19-979088-3.
  5. ^ Sagiv, David (17 June 2013). Fundamentalism and Intellectuals in Egypt, 1973-1993. ISBN 9781135239541.
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  8. ^ El-Fattah, Alaa Abd (2019-09-23). "A personal introduction to viciousness in enmity". Mada Masr. Archived from the original on 2019-10-10. Retrieved 2019-10-10.
  9. ^ Yee, Vivian (2022-08-08). "'A Slow Death': Egypt's Political Prisoners Recount Horrific Conditions". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-08-09.
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  11. ^ Mayer, Jane (2005-02-14). "Outsourcing Torture: The secret history of America's 'extraordinary rendition' program". The New Yorker. Archived from the original on 2019-09-14. Retrieved 20 February 2007.
  12. ^ "Egypt: Collective Punishment in Scorpion Prison". Human Rights Watch. 17 December 2020. Retrieved 17 December 2020.
  13. ^ "Activist jailed by Egypt sees wider struggle for rights". AP News. 15 February 2022. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Release of Prisoner of Conscience Ramy Shaath". International Federation for Human Rights. Retrieved 10 January 2022.
  15. ^ Nawaz, Maajid (2016-05-08). "The Secret Life of Sadiq Khan, London's First Muslim Mayor". Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  16. ^ Alandete, David (August 22, 2013). "El exdictador egipcio Hosni Mubarak sale de la prisión de Tora". El País – via
  17. ^ Trafford, Robert (October 28, 2015). "Shawkan: top Egyptian news photographer in prison for over 800 days without trial". The Independent.
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  19. ^ "freesoltan". freesoltan. Retrieved 2019-07-03.
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  22. ^ "UN calls for 'prompt and thorough' probe into Morsi's death".
  23. ^ Elsayed Gamal Eldeen (2013-12-21). "Senior Morsi aides transferred to Cairo prison charges yet to be filed". Ahram English. Retrieved 2016-08-07.
  24. ^ "Jailed Brotherhood spokesman disciplined for New York Times article". Middle East Monitor. February 28, 2017.
  25. ^ "Egypt: End Gehad el-Haddad's solitary confinement and denial of medical care". Amnesty International Canada. May 28, 2018.
  26. ^ "Gehad transferred to Scorpion Prison". August 19, 2020.
  27. ^ "Brotherhood spokesman Gehad al-Haddad held in Egypt". BBC News. September 17, 2013.
  28. ^ Abdel Kouddous, Sherif. "Canadian journalist held in notorious Egypt jail in crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood". Toronto Star.
  29. ^ "Mohamed Fahmy, Canadian journalist, pardoned by Egyptian president". CBC.
  30. ^ "Stephen Harper, Khaled Al-Qazzaz needs your help". Toronto Star. July 15, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  31. ^ Amnesty International (April 2, 2018). "Egyptian defenders and journalists deteined" (PDF). Retrieved December 30, 2020.
  32. ^ "European Parliament resolution on the deteriorating situation of human rights in Egypt". Europarl portal. December 16, 2020.
  33. ^ Michaelson, Ruth (2 May 2020). "Egyptian film-maker who worked on video mocking president dies in jail". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-05-03 – via
  34. ^ "Egypt: Shady Habash, filmmaker who mocked el-Sisi, dies in prison". Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  35. ^ Staff, The New Arab (29 September 2020). "US-based Egyptian filmmaker detained in Egypt in 'outrageous' crackdown on artistic freedom". alaraby. Retrieved 2020-11-19.
  36. ^ "Mustafa Ali Hassanien, Student at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, Arrested in Egypt, Accused of Membership in Terrorist Organization, Spreading False News and Disturbing Public Security". Committee of Concerned Scientists. 2020-11-10. Retrieved 2020-11-19.

External links[]

Coordinates: 29°57′06″N 31°16′42″E / 29.95167°N 31.27833°E / 29.95167; 31.27833