The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

All detainees to be released, except Sharqawi and Sha3er

I was just on the phone with Ahmad Seif al-Islam, director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center and father of detained blogger 3alaa. He said all remaining non-Muslim Brothers detainees, around 20 Kefaya activists are to be released-- including Kamal Khalil, Gamal 3abdel Fattah, Wael Khalil, Ibrahim el-Sahary--by a unexpected order from the State Security Prosecutor today.
Karim el-Sha3er and Mohamed el-Sharqawi were given another 15 days in prison, however. They, together with 3alaa el-Kashef (an activist from 3arish), had been the only activists referred today to the State Security Prosecutor, who decided only to release the latter, and renew the detention of the first two. The rest of the activists are to be released directly, sometime tomorrow from Luman Tora and Mazra3et Tora prisons.


3alaa Seif al-Islam, whose release was ordered yesterday, is still in Tora Prison as of the moment. His friends have expressed concern his release could be further stalled, but hoped he would be freed tomorrow. 3alaa has been blogging from his prison cell. His last posting was about "Kambuzz," a "criminal" who was moved to their cell, as part of the "punishment" to the political detainees for hunger-striking. 3alaa wrote it seems the prison authorities' policy has been bringing opposite results, with the "criminals" getting politicized and joining the dissidents' cause.
And, we should not forget there are around 700 detainees from the Muslim Brotherhood still in prison, after being picked up in pro-democracy demos, from their homes, or summer camps. We all hope their release will follow soon.

UPDATE: Here’s an AP report, by Nadia Abou El-Magd on today’s developments...

20 secular Egyptian activists ordered freed, incarceration of sexually assaulted detainee renewed
CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Authorities on Wednesday ordered the release of 20 leftist activists who have spent seven weeks in jail, but renewed the detention of two others, including one who says that he was sexually assaulted while in custody.
The 22 were arrested in late April during peaceful protests to express solidarity with pro-reform judges.
Activist Mohammed el-Sharkawi, 24, was tortured and sodomized at a police station, his Lawyer Gamal Eid told The Associated Press in late May. An AP reporter on May 25 saw more than 15 men in plainclothes grab el-Sharkawi and punch and kick him after he participated in a peaceful protest outside of the Journalists' Syndicate in downtown Cairo.
Last month, the U.S. State Department publicly criticized Egypt for its crackdown on secular political activists, and called for an investigation into el-Sharkawi's case.
El-Sharkawi hasn't been treated for fractures to his hand and ribs, sustained while in police custody, his lawyer said. El-Sharkawi is a member of Youth for Change, affiliated with the political opposition movement Kifaya, Arabic for Enough.
Authorities conducted a forensic medical exam on El-Sharkawi three days after his arrest, but haven't made the results public or released them to his lawyer.
The state security prosecutor on Wednesday extended the detention of El-Sharkawi and Karim el-Sha'er, who is in his twenties, for 15 days.
The pair were arrested in the street and returned to jail, three days after spending a month in detention following an earlier peaceful demonstration.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the prosecution ordered 31 members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood arrested and extended the detention of 134 held since May, also for supporting the pro-reform judges.
Authorities on Tuesday also ordered 31 released from about 700, picked up since March in a countrywide crackdown on the group.
Founded in 1928 and banned since 1954, the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's largest Islamic group. Membership is considered illegal, but the group is believed to have tens of thousands of followers.
The Brotherhood is the largest opposition bloc in parliament, having won about one-fifth of the seats in elections last year.
Police began a fresh crackdown on the Brotherhood in March, when members protested against the extension of Egypt's controversial emergency laws. The roundups continued as the Brothers demonstrated in solidarity with the pro-reform judges in April and May.
A group of judges is calling for full independence of the judiciary. A judicial disciplinary panel reprimanded one of them and cleared another for speaking to the media about allegations of fraud during last year's parliamentary elections.
The United States has urged Egypt to push ahead with democratization and expressed unease about the country's human rights record. Earlier this month, Congress voted only narrowly to continue funneling aid money to Cairo.
One of the people ordered released Wednesday is socialist activist Kamal Khalil, 57, whose April detention was his 16th since 1968.
Alaa Abdel Fattah, one of Egypt's best known bloggers and who was ordered released Tuesday, after 45 days in jail, has not been freed, his father, Ahmed Saif el-Islam, told the AP Wednesday, explaining that the orders were still subject to approval by state security and police.