News / Middle East

Wife of Jailed Morsi Aide Pleads Case at UN

Sarah Attia, wife of Khaled al-Qazzaz, who served as foreign policy advisor to ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, on August 25, 2014, at the United Nations offices in Geneva.
Sarah Attia, wife of Khaled al-Qazzaz, who served as foreign policy advisor to ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, on August 25, 2014, at the United Nations offices in Geneva.
Reuters

The Canadian wife of an ex-aide to Egyptian Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, whose husband has been detained more than 400 days in solitary confinement, says she has brought a case to the United Nations this week, seeking support for his release.

Khaled al-Qazzaz, secretary to Morsi on foreign affairs, was arrested in July 2013 along with the elected president and eight other senior aides when Morsi was overthrown by the army. His wife, Sarah Attia, says his case is symptomatic of a broader malaise in Egyptian society.

“It's no longer about the Islamists anymore. It is about anyone that speaks up against the current regime,” she told Reuters in an interview at the U.N. in Geneva. “That should be a concern to the human rights community to end the violations.”

No one from the Egyptian government was immediately available for comment.

Morsi was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's biggest political force until last year. After Morsi's arrest, hundreds of demonstrators at two protest camps were killed in what Human Rights Watch says probably amounted to crimes against humanity. Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters were arrested.

An Egyptian state prosecutor has charged Morsi and 14 other Brotherhood members with inciting murder and violence, charges linked to violence in which around a dozen people were killed outside the presidential palace in December 2012.

“On July 3, 2013, the day of the military coup, which happened to be his 34th birthday as well, my four children and I waited for him to come home and he didn't. Basically, he was kidnapped,” Attia said.

The Qazzaz couple met as engineering students at the University of Toronto and moved to Cairo in 2005, Attia said. Her husband, who has permanent residency in Canada, took part in anti-Mubarak protests at Tahrir Square; their youngest daughter is named Tahrir after the square.

Attia, who is of Egyptian origin, has meetings scheduled this week with senior aides to U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay and independent U.N. investigators.

A U.N. panel of experts on arbitrary detention said in a finding made public in April 2014 that Qazzaz and other Morsi aides were held unlawfully and called on the government to release them immediately and provide compensation.

Solitary confinement

Attia was allowed to visit Qazzaz at a military compound in Cairo before he was sent to Tora prison, she said.

“He has been there in solitary confinement for 418 days today (Monday) ... He has not been charged to date,” Attia said, holding a handwritten note from him smuggled out of Tora prison's maximum security facility, Aqrab, which means Scorpion.

“His only crime is that he was a civil servant at his workplace at the time of the coup,” she said.

Amnesty International has called for Qazzaz to be freed or charged with a recognizable criminal offense and given a fair trial. It has condemned the jailing of his elderly father, Adly, believed to have been “targeted because of his son” and released in June after eight months and two heart attacks in prison.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, which checks on conditions of detention worldwide, has not been allowed to visit prisoners in Egypt for over a decade, a spokeswoman said.

“My husband's health is deteriorating very quickly because of the poor conditions ... He has lost mobility in his left arm because of a problem he developed in the nerves of his neck,” Attia said.

She has obtained a copy of an MRI report done in prison that she said shows that “six vertebrae in his neck have suffered damage” that has led to numbness in his limbs.

“It also says that it requires immediate surgery or it can result in permanent disability, so I'm very, very concerned.”

Attia, asked whether she believed it was a result of mistreatment in custody, said: “I'm not aware of any physical torture other than the solitary confinement, which many human rights organizations consider as torture.” 

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (2)
Comments
     
by: AUBREY KASONU CHINDEFU from: LUSAKA ZAMBIA
August 27, 2014 6:25 AM
Let this lady be assisted by the world governing body! It is disheartening to have a loved one in solitary confinement.

In Response

by: woldebirhan from: ethiopia
August 27, 2014 10:31 AM
I have the same story, my brother a Canadian citizen Mr. Tariku Abza has been in Johannesburg South Africa prison for 900 days. He never been convicted nor given a bail. He is a diabetic and his health is in grave condition. We need help from all human rights group and the government of Canada for his release or fair trial.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid