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EGYPT: ElBaradei shows solidarity with tortured supporter

March 11, 2010 |  9:14 am


Former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei has strongly condemned the torture of one of his supporters by security forces in the city of Fayoum in the Egyptian Nile delta.

After a conference in Fayoum was held to support ElBaradei's bid to amend the constitution was banned earlier in the week, physician Taha Abdel Tawab was called to the city's state security headquarters on Sunday, where he was accused of taking part in the barred gathering.
Once there, Abdel Tawab said that he was tortured for 24 hours by an officer named Mohamed Abdel Twab before he was released and taken to a hospital because of his injuries.
"Dr. Abdel Tawab was subjected to such an assault because he tried to practice his legitimate right of peacefully expressing his opinion of the importance of changing Egypt's political conditions," ElBaradei said in a statement.

"I strongly condemn this barbarian assault and I'd like to seize this opportunity to express my personal and unconditional solidarity with Abdel Tawab and any other free and loyal Egyptian," he added.

Despite remaining in a very critical condition, Abdel Tawab launched a hunger strike until "his dignity is retained."

"Whoever thinks he is mightier than God is wrong and I will continue my strike until I preserve my full rights," the physician told Al Destour newspaper from his hospital bed.

Over the last couple of days, a number of human rights organizations have furiously criticized authorities for trying to cover up the incident.

"The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information filed today a communiqué to the prosecutor general, asking him to forward the investigation with the state security officer Mohamed Abdel Tawab accused of torturing Taha Abdel Tawab," the organization said Wednesday.

Since ElBaradei's return to Egypt last month after stepping down from his IAEA post, many Egyptians have gathered around the 67-year-old in support of his calls for changing the constitution to allow him and other independent candidates run in the elections without too much obstacles. 

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Former U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed ElBaradei at his house in the outskirts of Cairo. Credit: Nasser Nasser / Associated Press