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

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid