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Political activist and paramedic tied to ‘No Military Trials’ kidnapped from home

The kidnapping of two activists against the military signals the treacherous road facing the No Military Trial campaign

A man walks past graffiti depicting members of the military council and reading 'Down with the military rule, no to military trials for civilians' near the defense ministry in the Abasseya district of Cairo (photo: AFP/KHALED DESOUKI)
A man walks past graffiti depicting members of the military council and reading ‘Down with the military rule, no to military trials for civilians’ near the defense ministry in the Abasseya district of Cairo (photo: AFP/KHALED DESOUKI)

Two activists involved in the No Military Trials for Civilians Movement were kidnapped on Friday in what their families are calling a coordinated campaign to silence them.

Anas Al-Assal, a paramedic who is awaiting sentencing in the Abaseyya trial today, and once spoke out against the military trial system at a press conference for the No Military Trials for Civilians Movement, was taken from his home at dawn on Friday as he was speaking with a colleague on the phone. Ahmad Ibrahim Saeed, a member of the No Military Trials for Civilians Movement, was snatched by unknown assailants after he received an anonymous phone call about a clash with military police in Mansoureya.

Separated by hours, the two kidnappings, linked by their connection to the No Military Trials movement, have left the victims’ families suspicious as to the timing of the abductions as well as to who is behind them.

Al-Assal was kidnapped on Friday at dawn by unknown parties. Al-Assal was in his family’s other apartment – two blocks away from the apartment where the family resides – and alone when the kidnapping took place.

“A couple of days ago, we were told that the apartment was opened.” Ahmad Al-Assal, Anas’ father said. “Anas went to check for himself and found its door open but nothing stolen. He put his cell phone on the ground then left the apartment. He returned only to find the cell moved on the table.”

On Friday at dawn, after having Sohour with his family, Anas decided to go back and check on the apartment. According to the friend with whom Anas was speaking on the phone at the time, the doorbell rang once. Anas opened it to find nobody outside. It rang again and the second time the friend on the phone heard two bangs. Then Anas screamed and the line went dead.

His brother, Malek, heard about what happened to Anas and went to check on him. He found the apartment door closed, the cell phone scattered on the ground and Anas nowhere to be found.

Downstairs, a red truck seen speeding away is believed to have held Anas, according to Anas’ father.
“I fear for the care of his hands the most,” said Anas’ sister, Sarah. “God knows what they’re doing to him right now.” Anas’ fingers were broken during the Abasseya clashes in May.

Anas’ family said that a friend of their son received a phone call from intelligence forces yesterday, warning the friend against communicating with Anas and the “Officers for the Revolution” facebook page, or else this individual would be next, said Anas’ family.

The lawyers defending Anas in the Abasseya case have sent a letters to both President Mohamed Morsy’s Office of the Ombudsman and the public prosecutor, informing them of the kidnapping.

Ahmad Ibrahim Saeed, an activist in the No Military Trials for Civilians movement, was also kidnapped Friday afternoon. He received an anonymous phone call, telling him that a fight involving military police was taking place in Mansoureya.

When he arrived there, the phone call proved to be false. On his way back to Mohandeseen on the 26th of July corridor, he was attacked by four people.

“Two tied me up and they took me somewhere underneath the 26th of July corridor bridge where we could not be seen,” Saeed said, retelling the story of his kidnapping.

“Then the beating and swearing started, warning me against releasing videos with military trials victims’ testimonies, holding conferences for those militarily detained.

“’Forget about those detained in Suez’ they told me,” Saeed said.

The kidnappers specifically referred to Bassem Mohsen Al-Wardani, who was detained in Suez on the day a verdict came on July 9th regarding military detainees in Suez, sentencing them all to prison. Other prominent figures in the No Military Trials movement including Abdel Rahman and Amin Al-Deen were included in the threats.

The kidnapping ended with the unidentified assailants stealing Saeed’s belongings; his keys, wallet, cell phone and money.
“We’re filing a report on Sunday, accusing the Ministry of Interior of being responsible for the attack.”

Saeed also commented on the latest round of kidnappings, mentioning that there’s nothing new about it. It is a tactic used against several activists before, he said.

Ziad Salem, No Military Trials member and responsible for the movement’s hotline in Alexandria, was kidnapped in December and the hotline number was stolen during the kidnapping.

“Our struggle against military trials is ongoing,” Saeed said. “We shall have nothing to fear and if this is a message sent to prevent us from continuing our path; it’s a trivial one.”

Prominent novelist and political activist Alaa Al-Aswany commented on the kidnappings through his twitter account, stating:
“In less than 24 hours, two revolutionary youth were kidnapped and held in obscure places, whereas President Morsy vows to preserve the sovereignty of law and thanks Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and the Minister of Interior.”

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