07:35, October 11 269 0 theguardian.com

2018-10-11 07:35:06
US-Egyptian man was tortured by Egypt security forces, says rights group

A US-Egyptian national was forcibly disappeared for four months, brutally tortured and sexually assaulted by Egyptian security forces, according to Human Rights Watch.

Khaled Hassan, a 41-year-old limousine driver from New York, was detained while in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria in January to visit his wife and children.

He recounted to Human Rights Watch how officers from Egypt’s National Security Agency “severely beat him, gave him electric shocks, including on his genitals, and anally raped him in at least two incidents, once with a wooden stick and once by another man”.

The report is published less than a week after the US first lady, Melania Trump, visited Egypt and “expressed her keenness to work on strengthening cooperation between the two countries”, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidential spokesman.

Hundreds of Egyptian citizens have been forcibly disappeared since Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi, who met the first lady, swept to power after a military coup in 2013, including a spike in disappearances conducted by the National Security Agency, according to human rights groups.

Hassan’s account provides a brutal and detailed picture of torture at the hands of the NSA. Agents “hung him from his arms for days, dislocating both his shoulders. They repeatedly gave him electric shocks to the head, tongue, the anus, the testicles, and his groin area,” according to the report.

Human Rights Watch say forensic experts verified that photographs of Hassan’s wounds are consistent with torture from electric shock devices.

They add that agents later operated on Hassan’s injuries without anaesthesia, part of a process where they waited for his visible wounds to heal before he was presented to military prosecutors in May. Authorities added his name to a list of hundreds accused of allegiance to Islamic State, a charge he denies.

HRW said NSA officers raided the Hassan family home in Alexandria shortly after his arrest. They demanded that his wife, Liuba Skateeff, who is Peruvian, leave the country along with their three Egyptian-American children.

Egypt’s State Information Service acknowledged Hassan’s detention, but denied that he was forcibly disappeared or tortured in a written response to Human Rights Watch.

An official from Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Guardian that “currently, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is diligently examining this issue in order to respond as soon as possible”.

A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Cairo said they were unable to comment on whether Hassan was tortured, but they “have urged the Egyptian authorities to attend to Mr Hassan’s medical condition and ensure he is treated humanely”, and he has received several visits from US embassy officials since his detention in January.

“We urge the Egyptian government to ensure Mr Hassan and all detainees are treated humanely and their fair trial guarantees are respected,” they said, adding that they have raised the allegations made in the Human Rights Watch report with the Egyptian authorities.

In July, the US released $195m in military aid to Egypt, which had previously been withheld due to human rights concerns. In a leaked memo, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, demanded the release of the aid, despite stating that “the overall human rights climate in Egypt continues to deteriorate”. The memo also cites “a continuing problem” of arbitrary arrests, enforced disappearances “and numerous allegations of torture and deaths in detention”.


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