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Egyptian academic detained for almost one year without due process

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo, 8 May 2010 - According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Saudi security forces have detained Egyptian academic and journalist Dr. Abdul Aziz Kamel since 13 June 2009. Dr. Aziz was thrown in Al Haer Prison and has yet to be brought to trial.

Dr. Aziz's family at first preferred to remain silent, in the hope that the arrest was a mistake that would soon be corrected. However, numerous false promises of the professor's forthcoming release, the suspicious silence of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and its failure to request an explanation from the Saudi authorities concerning the reasons for the arrest of an Egyptian citizen have become cause for concern. Indications are that Aziz will be added to the list of Egyptian detainees in Saudi Arabia held without charge or trial with the total indifference of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

Dr. Aziz, an Egyptian academic, has been working in Saudi Arabia for 30 years after receiving his Master's degree in Shariah (Islamic law) from Al Imam University in Saudi Arabia. He is also a professor at Al Azhar University in Cairo. He worked as a lecturer at King Saud University before taking up writing for some newspapers and magazines, including "Al Bayan". He also administered the Lewa Al Shariah website.

He is not wanted for security reasons in either Saudi Arabia or Egypt, and he was accustomed to traveling between the two countries. Moreover, he is not known for criticizing or opposing the Saudi government. Subsequently, his family believed that the arrest must have been a mistake. His mother reportedly died of grief after the Egyptian Foreign Ministry failed to take action and after the Saudi security ignored all laws stipulating that detainees must be notified of the accusations against them and be fairly tried on any pending charges.

Gamal Eid, executive director of ANHRI, said "We do not trust either Saudi security or the Saudi Interior Minister, Naif Ibn Abdelaziz, as the latter is used to disregarding the law. Now after Dr. Aziz's mother has died of grief and after he has unfairly spent almost one year behind bars, we cannot possibly remain silent when what is at stake is the freedom of a journalist and an academic. Otherwise we would join the list of silent parties and accomplices; the Saudi security and the Egyptian foreign ministry."

Eid added, "It is time for a clear and powerful action against the Saudi interior minister and against arbitrary detentions without investigation or trial, whether for Egyptians or Saudi activists. He who violates the freedoms of citizens of any nationality deserves to go on trial. Surely there must be a way to prosecute this minister concerning these crimes."

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