CAIRO: Egyptian police conducted a midnight search of the family home of Philip Rizk, an Egyptian-German activist detained by state security investigations officers three days ago.
The search, which began shortly before 1 am, lasted four hours.
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 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.
While Rizk’s whereabouts have not been officially confirmed, state security investigations officers told his family that he is being held in the state security investigations headquarters in Maadi.
There have been no official charges leveled against him.
Jeannette Rizk, Philip’s sister, said Monday that they discovered that his Maadi apartment, where he lives on his own, has been broken into, and found his keys lying on the table.
They also discovered that a camera was missing as well as a computer and a suitcase.
At press time, the family was waiting for police to arrive.
They presumes that the apartment was broken into late Sunday, since Jeannette was there until 8 pm that day.
Rizk’s mother Judith told Daily News Egypt that the family is “very distressed.
“We’re trying to cope. We feel that this is crossing the line, taking it to another level. We are very tired and distressed, she said.
According to Rizk’s mother, around five men in civilian clothing and three wearing riot gear and carrying large guns arrived at the Rizk family home in Maadi at 12:45 am.
She, her husband and two adult daughters were asleep when they arrived.
“They started ringing the doorbell like crazy. My husband explained that there are women in the house and that they have to get dressed before he opens the door. We prolonged this for as long as possible and used the time to ring the German Consulate and everyone we know, Rizk explained.
“When my husband eventually opened the door he demanded to see their ID and a search warrant. One officer partially exposed his ID card but not enough to reveal his name. They refused to give us their names and did not have a search warrant, she continued.
Rizk says that the state security investigations officers confirmed that their presence in the house was linked to their son Philip.
A representative from the German consulate and an American University in Cairo (AUC) professor arrived at the Rizk home shortly afterwards. They were initially prevented from entering the building by the police.
State security investigations officers searched the office of Maged Rizk (Philip s father). Judith Rizk says that the first thing they asked about were computers in the house.
Officers removed nothing from the house.
The police force left the Rizk home at 2:45 am but remained in the building.
They returned at 3 am.
“They came back and took all our personal information and asked us nonsensical questions about what my daughters study and so on, Rizk said.
The officers then told Maged Rizk that they wanted him to accompany them to their office in order to “file a report about the house search.
Gamal Eid, a lawyer from Egyptian NGO the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) arrived around this time.
“Eid strongly advised my husband not to go, and negotiations with the police officers went on for about an hour, Rizk said.
“It was eventually agreed that my husband would go, accompanied by Eid, the German consulate official and my daughter Jeannette. I by that time was feeling very unwell and felt unable to go, she continued.
State security investigations officers then informed Maged Rizk that they intended to search his company office.
“Eid objected strongly, and things became a bit aggressive. They were standing at the front door at this point and Eid shut the door in their face, Rizk explained.
“They started ringing the doorbell angrily. Eid re-opened the door and asked them whether they had anything new to say. When they said that they didn t, he shut the door again, Rizk said.
“They left the apartment building but stood outside it for about another hour, making phone calls. They eventually left at 5 am.
In an ANHRI statement, Eid condemns what he labels the “breaking into of the Rizk family home.
“The Interior Ministry must hold to account these officers when they commit this thuggery, carried out without the knowledge of their superiors, and explain the failure of the officers to respect the law – particularly given that representatives of the German Embassy and ANHRI witnessed this police thuggery, Eid is quoted as saying.
Possible reasons for Rizk s detention remain unclear.
He worked for two years in Gaza, including with a UK registered charity, The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, a relief organization which according to its website is specialized in “conflict where there is a religious component to the violence.
Since his return to Egypt from Gaza, Rizk has been undertaking MA studies at AUC and editing a documentary film he made about non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation in Palestine.
Jeannette Rizk says she strongly doubts his association with a Christian charity could in any way have aroused the suspicion of Egyptian authorities.
“If anything it works in his favor – they re more concerned about Islamist organizations, Jeannette Rizk said.
“The house search shows that they re desperately looking for evidence in order to pin anything on him, Rizk continued.
Daily News Egypt contacted diplomatic sources who said that Philip s status as a dual national puts him beyond assistance by German consular authorities.
“This activist is a dual national, which means that he ll be treated as an Egyptian. If someone is fully German, they are entitled to the assistance of the German consulate. In the case of a dual national, however, Egypt is free under international law to deal with him as they wish.