Doctor reappears amid confusion about alleged abduction

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CAIRO: Ahmed Atef, coordinator of the Sept. 10 doctors’ strike, showed up Sunday after disappearing for six days, claiming to have been kidnapped.

While he has no idea who kidnapped him, he said they questioned him about last week’s Maspero clashes.

Journalist Nagy Aboul Naga, in a phone call to a television talk show, had claimed to have video documents proving that Atef is planning to overthrow the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Aboul Naga accused Atef of planning, along with other people, the Oct. 9 Maspero clashes by inciting the public against the military council, which has been ruling the country since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

A violent crackdown by army forces on a protest demanding Coptic rights claimed the lives of 27 people and left more than 300 injured. While activists and eyewitnesses blame the army for using live ammunition and running over protesters with APCs, army council generals have denied both accusations.

Atef says he was kidnapped on Tuesday by a man who asked him to conduct a medical check up on his young daughter. The man said his daughter was waiting in the car, but when Atef got there, he found three other men with guns who forced him into the vehicle.

One of the captors, Atef said, told him it would only take an hour to answer some questions and that he would not be hurt. "Don’t ask for anything so we’re not forced to be violent," the man said.

The men allegedly covered Atef’s face and gagged his mouth. "They dropped me off at a building and left me until the next day, when their investigation started," he said. "The same man told me that they will transfer me to another building where the questioning would take place."

While being questioned, Atef said the men covered his eyes. "The investigator asked me personal information about my family. Then he asked about the doctors’ strike — I was one of the coordinators," he said.

Atef said he was also questioned about the doctors’ syndicate elections, in which he was a candidate.

Later on, he was asked about his connection to the bloody clashes that took place in front of Maspero. "I wasn’t extremely surprised [by this line of questioning] because of what Aboul Naga had accused me of," he added.

However, Atef’s uncle said on a television show that the journalist had called him to say that his nephew was not the man he had meant to accuse, and that he is ready to go to SCAF to prove Atef’s innocence.

For his part, Atef said this is unacceptable and that he will pursue legal action against Aboul Naga. "If he really possesses a video or other documents, he should show them to us," Atef said.

On Sunday, Atef said he awakened from anesthesia and found himself in a desert around the Mokkatam area. His bag and personal belongings were beside him, so he got in a taxi and headed to meet his family.

Atef’s colleagues, friends and family organized a solidarity protest on Sunday in front of the High Court. Afterwards, Atef’s mother was planning to head to SCAF to demand they interfere in efforts to release him, until she got a phone call from her son.

"There is a general state of anger towards what happened to Atef," Ramy Fouad, member of the Youth Doctors’ coalition, said.

The coalition had been in contact with members of the new board of the Doctors’ Syndicate, who said they will do all they can to hold those responsible for Atef’s ordeal accountable, Fouad added.

"While this has not happened in the 24 hours since he’s reappeared, we have confidence in the new board to … do their part," he added.

Mona Mina, member of the board, said they first need to know the details about the alleged kidnapping in order to determine the suitable procedures.

"In our only contact with him, he said he was in Mokkatam. When we asked about details, he said ‘later,’" she said.

Mina said human rights’ groups have asked all sovereign entities about Atef and they all denied holding him captive.

"If he was really kidnapped or if he was hurt, he should tell us so we can call for accountability. Until then, we do not have any accurate information about what happened and cannot do anything," she added.

Atef said he was not hurt by his captors, but was threatened, which caused him to "break down.”


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