The imprisonment of Ola Al-Qaradawi, daughter of prominent Islamic scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, and her husband Hosam Khalaf is “a flagrant violation of the international law”, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention warned on Wednesday.
The UN’s remarks came following a recently-launched online campaign dubbed “Free Ola and Hosam”, which was created to call on the Egyptian authorities to release the detainees.
The rights organisation said it has concluded that “the detainees’ ordeals in prison amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” It referred their case to the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Egypt has not yet responded.
“The couple is being held illegally and in violation of international law,” the UN group quoted the defendants’ international counsel, Jared Genser, as saying after he submitted a public statement to the organisation.
Genser stressed that the Egyptian government’s arrest and detention of Ola and Hosam was “inherently discriminatory and based on birth and family relations,” adding that “they have been arrested and detained for their family ties with Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi.”
“We desperately hope that this opinion convinces Egyptian authorities to release my parents on humanitarian grounds,” the couple’s daughter, Aya Khalaf, said, stressing: “My mother is critically ill and should be in a hospital, not a prison cell.”
In June 2017, Ola, 56, and Hosam, 58, were arrested by the Egyptian authorities after they were accused of “belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood group and planning to carry out terror operations targeting state security and institutions.” Since then, the Egyptian couple have been denied access to legal counsel, family visits and adequate medical care.
Ola’s health has rapidly deteriorated over the past months as she has been subjected to physical and verbal abuse in prison. She was reported to have recently fainted in court.