CAIRO: Many of the foreign students from Al-Azhar University who were detained by police on Friday have not been given legal representation or access to foreign diplomats, according to officials involved in the case.
At least 40 students from six different countries were arrested at their dormitories early Friday morning. Seventeen students – 15 Russians and two Tajiks – have been released.
Ruslan Volkov, attaché at the Russian Embassy, said that while some students were released unconditionally, others will be deported to Russia for visa violations. He said he is unaware of the specific violations.
Russian embassy officials have not been granted access to the remaining detainees, but those released reported “very difficult conditions, according to Volkov, describing hot, cramped holding rooms.
“Russian consular officials are talking to those released about their detention, said Volkov. “There had been rumors that they were mistreated while in detention.
According to The Moscow Times, one detainee, Khamid Alkhazurov, was quoted on Russian television news Channel One: “We were herded into one room, measuring five square meters. Fifty people, it’s unbearable. It’s hot here and there are no facilities, and there are sick people among us. They are categorically refusing to carry out our demands.
Egyptian authorities have not provided the embassy with a reason for continuing to detain the remaining students.
“We have sent a note to the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the fact that we were only officially notified about the detention of the Russian nationals today, Volkov said yesterday, two days after the arrests.
Diplomatic agreements proscribe quicker notification.
Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, who has taken on similar cases, said that the Al-Alzhar University students have not been charged or presented to the public prosecutor’s office. They currently have no legal representation.
Russian Embassy Second Secretary Timur Agametov told Interfax Information Services that Egyptian authorities had described the initial action as a routine check for residence permits. But he said that eyewitness accounts of the raid report that the students “were arrested in brutal form.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s Office could not confirm whether the students had the correct permits, according to The Moscow Times.
The Times also cited unconfirmed reports of Russian students arrested in Alexandria and Mansoura.
While most of the arrested Al-Alzhar students were from Chechnya and Ingushetia in Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that some of the detained were also from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, France, Britain, and Denmark.
The British Embassy in Cairo could not confirm the arrest of a British citizen on Sunday. Press Secretary Rebecca Stephens said that if such a case is confirmed, they would hope to contact the detainee within 24 hours. “We try hard to see them as soon as possible and to make sure they are being treated well, she said.
The Egyptian Ministry of the Interior said they had no information regarding the arrests and representatives of the Foreign Ministry were unavailable for comment.
Al-Alzhar University is a public, Islamic university located in Old Cairo. It is the second oldest degree-granting university in the world.
The university has not commented on the arrests.