US Diplomat Visits Detained Director of Think Tank, Eight Staffers Detained
US embassy official visited a human rights activist Monday three days after the US-Egyptian citizen was detained on charges of harming Egypt's image, reported The Associated Press.
More human rights groups spoke out Monday in defense of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo and head of an Egyptian think tank.
Ibrahim was arrested Friday night with three assistants. He was later detained for 15 days and transferred to a Cairo prison.
“He is well and everything is fine. We are satisfied with the visit,” an embassy spokesman told The Associated Press.
US Ambassador to Egypt, Daniel Kurtzer, has spoken on Ibrahim's behalf to high Egyptian government officials, including Prime Minister Atef Obeid, the spokesman said.
Prosecutor General Maher Abdel-Wahed has placed Ibrahim on a list of people not allowed to leave Egypt, security officials said Monday.
They said police detained eight employees of Ibrahim's think tank, the Ibn Khaldun Center on Monday, accusing them of embezzling $2.8 million donated by the European Union to boost voters' political awareness.
Monday's detainees are Mohammed Ibrahim, Tarek Hassan, Khaled Fayyad, Mamdouh Mansour, Tamer Nabil, Ahmed Atta, Ibrahim Kamal and Hassan Saleh, the officials said.
Ibrahim told The Associated Press on Saturday that prosecutors have charged him with preparing a documentary about elections that harms Egypt's image, receiving foreign funds without government permission and forging an election ballot. He said the ballot was a dummy made expressly for the film, which was being funded by the European Union.
Ibrahim has accused Egyptian officials of rigging voting. Parliamentary elections are expected in November, said the agency.
Amnesty International said in a statement Monday it had written to the Egyptian government expressing concern about Ibrahim's detention.
The group said it and other rights organizations were concerned “about repeated attempts by the Egyptian authorities to muzzle and intimidate human rights defenders.”
In Egypt, several rights groups protested the detention, added the AP.
“We call for the immediate release of Ibrahim as there are no reasonable legal grounds for his preventive detention,” The Arab Center for the Independence of the Judiciary and the Legal Profession said in a statement.
The Cairo-based World Center for Human Rights said “the arrest is aimed at putting an end to Ibrahim's ... activities in the field of ethnic minorities in Egypt and other Arab countries.”
For years Ibrahim has criticized Arab governments for their lack of democracy and discrimination against minorities. In Egypt, he called for greater opportunities for the country's Coptic Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the country's 64 million people.
The Egyptian Center for Human Rights for National Unity, a small group that defends Copts, called Ibrahim a “courageous Egyptian hero.” In a statement issued in Washington, the group called for Ibrahim's immediate release and urged the UN secretary-general to work for his freedom -- Albawaba.com
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