CAIRO: Rights group Amnesty International is urging the Egyptian authorities to reveal the whereabouts of a blogger who disappeared 14 days ago.
According to his mother, Amal Abdel Fattah Ahmed, 23-year-old Diaa Eddin Gad was attacked by four men wearing civilian clothing in the afternoon of Feb. 6 outside his home in Qotour, near Tanta in El-Gharbeyya governorate.
In a complaint presented by Gad s lawyers, Egyptian NGO the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) says that Ahmed witnessed Gad being “violently beaten before being put in a central security forces truck and driven off to an unknown location.
“Gad s family remains ignorant of the reasons for his arrest and detention and of where he is being held. This clearly indicates that Ahmed s son is being illegally detained by the police, the ANHRI complaint, submitted on Feb. 9, reads.
Amnesty International say in their urgent appeal, issued on Wednesday, that Gad suffers from health problems.
“Gad’s mother described to Amnesty International how he frequently suffers panic attacks which make it difficult for him to breathe. He also has difficulty walking or bending one of his legs, due to injuries suffered in childhood. He takes painkillers and other medication, which he did not have with him when he was arrested, the urgent appeal reads.
Gad runs the Sout Ghadeb (Angry Voice) blog which is critical of Egyptian policy towards Gaza and of the Feb. 4 arrest of activist Ahmed Douma.
On Feb. 10 Douma was sentenced to a one-year prison term and a LE 2,000 fine by a military tribunal after he was apprehended while entering Egypt from Gaza.
He was convicted of illegally crossing the eastern border of Egypt into Gaza.
Amnesty places Gad s disappearance against a background of arrests by the Egyptian authorities of critics of the government s position on Gaza, “including hundreds of members of the Muslim Brotherhood staging protests and youth activists for their writings on Egypt s policy on Gaza.
The urgent appeal goes on to mention Egyptian-German activist Philip Rizk, who was detained for four days after he participated in a solidarity march with Gaza.
Rizk had spoken to Gad on the telephone a few days before his arrest.
“Diaa Gad is an Egyptian blogger who was taken the very same day I was. I had spoken to him for the first time a few days before Egyptian “state security kidnapped both of us from different places, Rizk writes on his blog Tabula Gaza.
“Diaa had called to ask about details about our march to Gaza. As we knew our phones would be tapped I told him we could not give any details over the phone and asked for us to meet the following day in person. He never called again but his name came up during interrogation – [an interrogator] asked me what I knew about Diaa and then proceeded to tell me word for word what I had said to him on the phone that day, Rizk continues.
Gad has connections with other disappeared or detained Gaza activists.
According to a message sent out by Gad on the Jaiku instant messaging service on Feb. 3, he had taken part in a protest calling for the release of secretary general of the Labor Party Magdy Hussein with Ghad Party member Hossam Shehata outside the Cairo public prosecution office. Hussein was another activist convicted of illegally crossing into Gaza by a military court and sentenced to two years imprisonment on Feb. 11, 2009.
According to independent daily El-Badeel, Shehata disappeared on Feb. 11, 2009.
He had apparently gone to the public prosecution office to report attempts by state security investigations forces to arrest him, and reportedly sent a text message to newspapers including El-Badeel which read, “state security officers are looking for me right now and have set up an ambush outside my house in order to arrest me. They asked my family and neighbors about me who rang me on the telephone and told me not to go home.
When Shehata s friends went to the public prosecution office to join him, he had disappeared but his car was still parked outside the office.
Writing on his blog (anos.maktoobblog.com) Ahmed Abdel Naby says that Shehata had driven activists to the Rafah Crossing in his car during the Israeli attack on Gaza. Among these activists were Douma and Gad.
In a statement issued on Feb. 11, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called for Gad s release and condemned the arrest of Gaza activists.
“By carrying out such arrests, the Egyptian authorities are trying to make it a crime to take sides. It is an intimidation measure of a kind that is being used with increasing frequency. As well as being illegal these … arrests are yet another warning shot to free expression in Egypt, the RSF statement reads.