The Egyptian authorities have so far refused to allow US consular officials to meet with a US-Egyptian human rights activist who was arrested in Cairo Saturday, a US embassy spokesman said Sunday.
"We have requested to visit him since Saturday morning, but we have not been granted access yet," US embassy spokesman David Ballard told AFP. "We hope we will see him soon."
Ballard said a representative of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a US citizen of Egyptian origin, contacted the US duty officer Saturday morning after he was arrested on charges of collaborating with foreign parties on projects to harm Egypt.
Asked if the case was of particular concern to the United States, Ballard replied: "We're always concerned when an American is arrested."
Following the arrest of an American abroad, the government that arrested him usually contacts the US authorities who then try to see the detainee and provide him with a list of lawyers and other information, he said.
But they do not represent the person legally, Ballard recalled.
Two colleagues at the Ibn Khaldun Center for Human Rights, which Ibrahim directs, were also arrested for questioning, but were released Saturday afternoon for having no connection to the charges against Ibrahim.
Ibrahim is also a professor of sociology at the American University in Cairo who is frequently interviewed by the foreign news media.
Human rights activists here denounced Ibrahim's arrest as part of a growing campaign of repression by the authorities against them and civil society in general.
Ibrahim faces 15 years in prison if found guilty of the charges, which include drafting reports on the internal situation in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and other Arab countries in exchange for money from abroad, the state security court prosecution added.
The prosecutors also accused Ibrahim of having "exploited the Ibn Khaldun Center to get into contact with a great number of countries and to foment internal problems that could threaten Egypt's stability."
The human rights activists said his trial would be "very damaging" for political life in Egypt.
He was being held for 15 days pending investigations into his case, the prosecutors said - CAIRO (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)