- An Amnesty International statement claims that the Egyptian authorities were preparing to forcibly return four Tunisian nationals – Ayman Hkiri, Ahamed Lahbib, Mhamed Almadiri and another whose name was unknown. If returned to Tunisia they would be in grave danger of torture, Amnesty added.
The four, who have not been charged with any offence, were being held at the al-Khalifa detention centre, in Cairo. According to Amnesty, five other Tunisian nationals were reportedly forcibly returned on 4 January.
Amnesty said that they were among a group of students, both foreign and Egyptian, arrested at around the end of November, who were all interrogated in connection with the activities of a cell recruiting people to go to fight the US-led forces in Iraq.
"All were detained for some weeks at the State Security Intelligence (SSI) office in Madinet Nasr, Northern Cairo, during which time they claim that they were tortured: this included being beaten and given electric shocks to sensitive parts of their bodies while blindfolded and handcuffed," said the Amnesty statement. "They were also prevented from sleeping and forced to watch as their cellmates were tortured," it added.
Five other Tunisian nationals who suffered the same treatment at the SSI in Madinet Nasr were reportedly forcibly returned in the evening of 4 January, after being detained for a number of days at the al-Khalifa centre. Amnesty said that their whereabouts were now unknown.
According to amnesty as well as the nine Tunisians, eight French, two Belgians, one US citizen and a number of Syrians and Egyptians had been arrested in a sweep through the Madinet Nasr district in Cairo and in Alexandria.
"The French and Belgian nationals were all students who had come to Egypt to learn Arabic and study Islam. They were arrested in November on suspicion of involvement in a terrorist network," said Amnesty. It added that all French and Belgian students were released when they were returned to their respective countries from Egypt on 7 December.
Meanwhile, arrests targeting members of the Muslim Brotherhood – whose parliamentary existence is now threatened by proposed amendments to the Egyptian constitution – have continued unabated.
The Brotherhood said in a statement on 3 Janaury, that 29 of their members had been arrested during raids on 2 January, in Sharqiya, Gharbiya and Daqaliyha governates, in the Nile Delta.
Over 1,000 Brotherhood members have been arrested since pro-reform protests in May 2006 began a new round of confrontation with the Egyptian regime. The Brotherhood also expressed concern over the health of its deputy Supreme Guide, Khayrat al-Shater, who has been in detention since his arrest last month.
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