Babylon & Beyond

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EGYPT: Blogger detained for 10 hours at Cairo airport

June 30, 2009 | 11:52 am

Well-known Egyptian blogger and activist Wael Abbas was detained for 10 hours by Cairo airport security officers upon his arrival in Egypt early Tuesday. Abbas, renown for exposing police brutality and other human rights violations, was returning home from the Talberg Forum, a yearly conference held in Sweden to discuss global interdependence.

"Officers took my passport at 3 a.m. and left me waiting for hours without any clear explanation," Abbas told the Los Angeles Times. "Despite the officers'  threats, I decided to stage a sit-in as a sign of protest. They told me I won't get the passport back until I end the sit-in, which I did after four hours."

After regaining his passport, Abbas says he was searched as officers confiscated his laptop, claiming that it should be reported to the Egyptian Artistic Works. "Their excuse is, of course, total nonsense," he commented.

"I called the police three times to file a report for illegal detention, laptop confiscation and bag loss, but no one responded," Abbas continued. "I will be filing a report of the incident at El Nozha police station and the [United Nations] will forward another report to the general prosecutor."

"I'm really afraid they might frame me like they did with Howaida Taha."

Taha was sentenced to six months in jail for allegedly harming Egypt's national interests by fabricating video footage of police torture while she was working for Al Jazeera in May 2007.

Abbas previously posted a number of videos showing Egyptian police officers torturing detainees, including an officer who was binding and sodomizing a bus driver as the latter tried to break up a dispute between police and another driver. The video helped in the conviction of the two policemen.

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo