Release Hafez Abu-Se'da

Release Abu-Se’da Now

Day 6 Update

12/06/98 13:30

Abu-Se’da interrogated again while state-owned media hints that the Government may arrest more human rights workers

Today, the State Security Prosecutor is interrogating jailed human rights activist Hafez Abu-Se'da for the second time in a week. At the same time, according to reports in the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, the State Security Prosecutor intends to expand the investigation of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and may be preparing to arrest more of its members.

At the same time, the Center for Human Rights Legal Aid (CHRLA) today asked the main Administrative Court in Giza to force the State Security Prosecutor to open investigation files to Abu-Se'da's defense lawyers. Since he was detained on Dec. 1, the Prosecutor has refused to allow him to see his attorneys or to allow his lawyers to see the files from his interrogation -- a violation of Egyptian and international law. CHRLA lawyers asked the Administrative Court yesterday to allow Abu-Se'da to meet with his defense team.

Abu-Se’da, the head of the EOHR, was first interrogated on Dec. 1 and then locked in preventive detention for 15 days. Under Egyptian law, detainees can be held in jail for up to 45 days -- three consecutive 15-day terms -- before appearing before a judge.

Prison officials finally allowed Abu-Se’da’s wife, Nehad Abul-Qumsan, to visit him yesterday (Saturday) after more than four days with no visitation. A date for a hearing in the Administrative Court on opening the investigation files and allowing Abu-Se'da to see his lawyers will be scheduled later today.

From the beginning, this detention has been an attempt by the Government to stifle all human rights work in Egypt and punish an organization that has honestly reported the Government's sad record of torturing its own citizens. This imprisonment is a flagrant attack on human rights and freedom of expression in Egypt.

Suggestions in the state-owned press that more human rights workers may be arrested add to our fears that detaining Abu-Se'da was the first step in an unprecedented attempt to repress human rights organizations in Egypt.

Abu-Se’da is a prisoner of conscience. The Government should release him immediately, close this file, and allow human rights organizations to do their work freely.

For further information contact:

The Center for Human Rights Legal Aid, Tel: 202-338-2908/202-338-8231; The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession, Tel: 2-012-311-2420.

For Hafez Abu-Se'da's biography, protests from other human rights organizations, and daily updates, visit the website located at

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