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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
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 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.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


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