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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More