CAIRO: Two lawyers representing Christian rights activists Peter Ezzat and Adel Fawzy Hanna, currently in police custody on suspicion of ‘sedition’ and insulting the Prophet Mohamed (PBUH), claim authorities have “no evidence against the suspects.
After Ezzat and Hanna were arrested Aug. 9, police raided their homes, confiscating laptops, CDs, books and cassettes, which officials said contained proof supporting their charges against the men.
A spokesman from the Ministry of Interior, Major Khaled, told Daily News Egypt following the arrests that, “Adel [Fawzy Hanna] wrote on the net subjects.talking in a bad way about Prophet Mohamed, but could not elaborate his claims.
No evidence has yet been made public and the men’s lawyers, Naguib Guebrail and Mamdouh Nakhlah, insist that is because none exists.
The actual charges, according to Mamdouh Nakhlah, are contempt for religion and offending Islam in published works, as well as conspiring against Egypt with a foreign country (Canada).
“Until now there is no evidence, Nakhlah said. “We are trying to figure out who is responsible for the publications, and how involved [our clients] really are.
Guebrail points out that even if they have insulted Islam, the men would only be transgressing Egyptian law if they were proven to be undermining Egyptian society – legally known as ‘sedition’.
Hafez Abu Saeda, Director of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), which has presented an appeal to the authorities on behalf of the two men, previously told Daily News Egypt that owning materials that insult the Prophet Mohamed or Islam does not constitute a criminal offence.
He did say, however, that according to Article 98 of the penal code, the men would be found guilty if they were using the materials for “broadcasting and disseminating ideas insulting to Islam.
Nader Fawzy, the Director of the Canada-based organization Middle East Christian Association (Meca) to which Ezzat and Hanna belong, strongly denied that either man had posted insults on the organization’s website.
“[The police] have no evidence, Fawzy had earlier told Daily News Egypt. “They say it is on our website – well where is it then? Let them show us where [these insults] are.
The criminal investigation is ongoing and should be finished by early next week, Guebrail said, adding that neither he nor Nakhlah had been allowed to visit either of the men in prison.
Guebrail met with the general prosecutor’s assistant Saturday to present a written report in defence of Ezzat and Hanna, and was told that both men should be released some time in the middle of next week.
Guebrail does not expect the case will even reach the courts.
“They will finish their investigation and that should be the end of it, he said.