Three Britons charged with membership in illegal Islamist group in Egypt
Egyptian prosecutors on Sunday formally charged three Britons and 23 Egyptians with membership in an outlawed Islamist group and ordered them to stand trial in an emergency court.
The three British citizens charged with membership in the Islamic Liberation Party by High State Security Prosecutor Hisham Badawi are Reza Pankhurst, Ian Malcolm Nisbett and Maajid Nawaz, Badawi said. No date has yet been scheduled for their trial in the court, Badawi said from the office of the chief prosecutor, according to AFP.
Besides being charged with membership in an illegal group, they are also accused of trying to reactivate such a group and participating in a group that works against the state of Egypt, Badawi added.
If convicted of the charges, they could face 25 years in prison with hard labor, judicial sources said. Verdicts cannot be appealed under the branch of the high state security court where they will be tried, the sources further added.
Hassan Rizfi, a fourth Briton who was arrested along with the other three in April, was not charged with any crime and was freed, Badawi said. About sixty other people arrested at the same time were also released, he said. According to emergency laws in force since president Anwar Sadat was assassinated by Islamic militants in 1981, the four Britons and the others had been held without charge for renewable two-week periods.
A court source said one of the accused who was not named told interrogators that he "had joined the Hizb in 1983 because of his conviction of the need to restore the Islamic caliphate" and that "he was able convince several people"
In the meantime, Pankhurst "confessed he belonged to the movement and was responsible for setting up cells of the movement in Egypt and had prepared pamphlets," the court source said. Nawaz "admitted having called for changing all Muslim leaders in all the countries," the source said.
Nisbett, who was identified as a computer engineer, also "called for establishing an Islamic caliphate in line with the movement's ideas," according to the court source.
In London in April, Imran Waheed, who represents the Islamic Liberation Party in Britain, told Britain's Press Association that Pankhurst, Nisbett and Nawaz were members.
Waheed said at the time he was concerned over claims that the Britons, men in their 20s and 30s, were being harshly treated in custody, and added, "The three members of Hizb ut-Tahrir were in Egypt for a variety of reasons." Waheed said his party believed that violence and armed struggle against the regime were a violation of Islamic Sharia law.
"It never undertakes any military or terrorist actions." (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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