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Rights defender Mona Seif responds to official statement against BBC report on torture in Egypt

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi [Egyptian President Office/Apaimages]

Prominent Egyptian human rights advocate Mona Seif has responded on Sunday to a statement issued by the state-run State Information Service (SIS) to refute and criticize a recent BBC report on torture in Egypt.

The SIS statement, Seif said in a post on her Facebook page, comprises “contradictions”: “It used Alaa Abdel Fattah [a political detainee who is also Seif’s brother] as an example to deny [the existence of] torture, as a systematic crime that the Egyptian police has not stopped committing, although during the same period it [the SIS statement] cited the same commonly known reason for protecting Alaa from direct bodily harm: that he is one of the revolution’s well-known icons.”

Seif invited the SIS to obtain more details about those tortured in custody by consulting a report issued in 2017 by the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of the Victims of Violence in which torture victims’ testimonies are well-documented.

“When the police stormed Alaa’s home they refused to produce the prosecutors’ arrest warrant and they attacked him and his wife, stole their property, and kidnapped him. We found him the next day while he was being questioned by prosecutors at the premises of the Cairo Security Directorate. We filed a complaint against all of this and the complaint was totally ignored by concerned authorities. They even alleged that Alaa voluntarily handed his and his wife’s possessions to them.”

Read: Egypt sentences 21 to death on terror charges

Alaa Abdel Fattah is currently serving a five-year sentence on a charge of organizing a protest despite an assembly law that bans unauthorised protests.

The BBC report in question presented striking accounts of torture, rape and enforced disappearance that have taken place under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who was elected president less than a year after he led a military coup in which he ousted former president Mohamed Morsi.

Seif was quoted in the BBC report as saying, “I’ve never seen a regime as bloody as Sisi’s regime. I have never seen a regime that belittles the value of life like Sisi’s regime.”

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