Activists protest blogger's detention

Sarah Carr
5 Min Read

CAIRO: Members of the April 6 Movement are protesting the detention of a blogger who activists say was kidnapped by state security forces last month.

According to the Free Mait website, members of the April 6 Movement have announced their intention to launch an open-ended sit-in outside the public prosecution office, Cairo, until 22-year-old Mohamed Adel is released.

Adel, an information technology student and political activist who runs the Mait blog, disappeared on Nov. 20, 2008.

Adel’s cousin told the Abnaa Masr website that one of Adel’s friends had a phone conversation with the blogger on the morning of his disappearance at around 11 am.

Adel said that he was on his way to meet a foreign journalist. His mobile phone was subsequently switched off.

The Abnaa Masr report also states that an acquaintance of the foreign journalist, referred to as “Henry, confirmed that he had an appointment with Adel in a downtown café but that Adel never showed up. There was reportedly a heavy security presence at the café.

A female eyewitness is quoted on the Free Mait website as saying that at 1:30 pm on Nov. 20, she saw Adel sitting alone in the Borsa café.

“He was then surrounded by three groups of men wearing civilian clothing, each group composed of about 10 men, the eyewitness is quoted as saying.

“One of these men slapped Adel across the face before he was carried away to a white car waiting nearby.

A formal arrest warrant was issued on Nov. 24 – four days after Adel’s disappearance.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) said in a statement issued on Nov. 25 that it, and Adel’s friends, “have been informed that the blogger is being held at the state security headquarters known as ‘Lazoghli’ in Cairo, a notorious place where torture has been carried out on the infamous fourth floor.

According to the ANHRI statement, Adel’s father has filed two complaints demanding that his son’s whereabouts be revealed. The prosecutor general reportedly confirmed, unofficially, that Adel is wanted for questioning.

The statement also says that “40 soldiers and members of the special police forces searched Adel’s house and confiscated books and CDs prior to his arrest.

ANRHI suggests that the police had tapped Adel’s mobile phone and took him on his way to the meeting with the foreign journalist.

Adel, a member of the Kefaya movement for change, began blogging in 2005 and has also been an editor of ikhwanweb, the English-language website of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Free Mait website says that Adel was previously detained during a demonstration by security forces who took him, writer Abdel Wahab Messeiry and journalist Mohamed Abdel Qodoos and left them in the desert of New Cairo’s Fifth District.

The website also says that Adel, a supporter of the Palestinian cause, traveled to Gaza in January of this year with a relief convoy when the Rafah crossing was breached, and has been active in the campaign for the release of Hamas members imprisoned in Israeli jails.

Another activist, lawyer Ahmed Nassar, was also briefly detained this week by security forces who prevented him from attending a conference in the United States.

“At around 9:30 am on Dec. 2, I was taken to the state security headquarters in Cairo Airport while I was waiting for my flight to New York, Nassar told Daily News Egypt.

“The conference was organized by the US foreign ministry and was on the use of media and the internet in political activism. Seventeen international political movements were invited.

“The conference was covered in the Egyptian press, and the fact that I planned to attend had been reported, Nassar continued.

Nassar was held for an hour at the Cairo Airport’s state security headquarters before being released.

He spoke to Daily News Egypt from central Cairo’s Passports and Immigration Authority where he was trying to establish the reason why he was prevented from traveling.

“Nobody so far has been willing to speak to me, Nassar said.

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Sarah Carr is a British-Egyptian journalist in Cairo. She blogs at
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