CAIRO: An Egyptian-German political activist remains in detention over 48 hours after what rights groups are labeling his ‘abduction’ by state security investigations forces.
Philip Rizk, a 26-year-old journalist and MA student at the American University in Cairo (AUC) was taken at 11 pm on Friday Feb. 6, 2009 from the Abu Zabal police station in Qaliubiya.
Earlier that day, Rizk and 14 others had taken part in a peaceful awareness-raising march as part of the “To Gaza campaign Rizk had been involved in organizing.
At approximately 5 pm, at the end of the solidarity walk, the group were stopped by state security officers just after boarding a bus back to Cairo.
The group – a mixture of Egyptians and foreigners – were stopped by the side of the road for over three hours and asked for their names and addresses. No explanation was given for why they were being held.
At approximately 8:30 pm they were instructed to go to the Abu Zabal police station to have their personal IDs photocopied.
A state security investigations officer then informed Rizk that he needed to join him “to answer a few questions.
Accompanied by a lawyer from the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC), Rizk entered the police station while the rest of the group waited outside. Another lawyer, Ahmed Ezzat from the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, arrived half an hour later.
At 11 pm the lawyers phoned down to say that Rizk had been smuggled out of the station.
State security investigations officers had informed lawyers that Rizk would be briefly taken into a room next door to answer some questions.
Rizk was next seen in the back of a white Suzuki microbus coming out of the police station. Its rear number plate had been obscured by a piece of cloth and it bore no markings.
Five other men were in the microbus with Rizk.
Three members of the group followed the microbus through the streets of Abu Zabal until they reached a police checkpoint where a general and other police officers stopped their car.
The white microbus was allowed to continue after which it disappeared.
Dr Mostafa Hussein of the El Nadim Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence (who was driving the car) was summoned into the El-Qalag police checkpoint building by the police general.
Hussein alleges that he was punched by the general. The group was eventually released at midnight.
Rizk s whereabouts remain unknown. On Saturday morning his parents, friends and AUC professors gathered outside the public prosecutor s office where they were contained within steel barriers and surrounded by riot police.
State security officers only allowed Rizk s parents, two lawyers and two eyewitnesses to the kidnapping into the public prosecution office building.
A formal complaint was presented to the Prosecutor General, who transferred the case to the North Benha prosecution office.
During a demonstration held on the AUC campus on Sunday, Rizk s mother Judith told Daily News Egypt that there is still no word of her son.
“We were told last night that he might be released and waited until 1 am but were told nothing, she said.
There are rumors that Rizk is being held in either the Lazoghly or the Nasr City state security investigations headquarters, but in the absence of confirmation by state security investigations themselves, this has been impossible to establish with any certainty.
Rizk recently made a film about Palestinian resistance in the West Bank and is involved in humanitarian activities in Palestine. He lived for two years in Gaza.