Middle East News
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee arrested upon return to Egypt
Jun 13, 2011, 17:07 GMT
Cairo - Egyptian authorities arrested a former Guantanamo Bay detainee upon his return to Cairo on Monday for charges he was found guilty of in absentia.
Adel al-Gazzar arrived at Cairo airport in a wheelchair and briefly greeted his wife and four children before National Security agents detained him.
Al-Gazzar was sentenced to three years in absentia in a 2001 military trial after he was found guilty of being a member of the underground Islamist group El-Waad.
He was among 94 defendants in the case, of which half were found not guilty.
His US-based lawyer Ahmed Ghappour said, in a statement released to press, that the case failed to adhere to fair trial practices.
Such cases, said Ghappour, 'were often used as a tool by the Mubarak regime to silence dissent.'
During Mubarak's rule, many were found guilty of collecting money for Islamist groups and 'funding terrorism.'
His brother, Ashraf al-Gazzar, told the German Press Agency dpa that the family had not heard back from authorities, but expected to visit him in a military prison until further notice.
'We will have to ask for a retrial under the military court system,' he said. 'There are no reassurances of what will happen.'
The Egyptian military has been in control of the country since former President Hosny Mubarak was toppled in February, carrying out sentences under military tribunal.
Al-Gazzar was first detained while in a Pakistani hospital in 2001. He was recovering from injuries sustained while volunteering with the International Committee of the Red Crescent on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan that year.
He was hit by a US airstrike while helping refugees displaced by the onset of war, said Ghappour.
According to Ghappour, his client was handed over to the United States and transferred to a US prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he suffered abuse.
'He was subject to severe beatings, exposure to freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation for days on end, and suspension by the wrists,' said Ghappour.
Al-Gazzar received no medical attention during his time in Kandahar, and as a result, his leg was infected with gangrene so severe that it had to be amputated, said his lawyer.
'Mr. al-Gazzar has literally lost life and limb as a result of his unlawful detention by the United States,' said Ghappour.
Al-Gazzar's lawyer is advocating for a dismissal of his conviction in Egypt on humanitarian grounds for the unlawful detention he suffered at the behest of the US, and its adverse impact on his health.
He was one of two Egyptian detainees held in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, before US authorities handed him over to Slovakia after eight years of detention without charge.
At the airport in Cairo awaiting his arrival were members of local rights groups and two representatives from the local Red Crescent society where al-Gazzar formerly volunteered.
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