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Cablegate: Egypt's Foreign Ministry Raises Detention Of

VZCZCXYZ0002
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHEG #0038 0100504
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 100504Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7863
INFO RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUCNFB/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

UNCLAS CAIRO 000038

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

NSC STAFF FOR PASCUAL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM PTER CVIS EG
SUBJECT: EGYPT'S FOREIGN MINISTRY RAISES DETENTION OF
TERRORISM SUSPECT


Sensitive but unclassified. Please protect accordingly.

1.(SBU) Summary: During a meeting on January 3, Sherif
Issa, legal advisor to Egypt's Foreign Minister, complained
to us about the treatment Egyptian national Ahmed Abdellatif
Sherif Mohamed, one of the two Egyptian University of South
Florida students being held on terrorism charges in Tampa, is
receiving. While thanking the USG for facilitating the
recent visit of Abdellatif's parents to the U.S. to see their
son, Issa warned that the conditions of his pre-trial
confinement could be turning him in to an extremist.
According to Sherif, Egypt's Ministry Of Foreign Affairs is
not following the case of Abdellatif,s co-defendant, Yousef
Samir Megahed, because he is a green card holder and has a
very supportive and vocal family in the U.S. End Summary.

2.(SBU) Issa opened by thanking us for facilitating the
travel of Abdellatif,s mother and father to the U.S. in
December. He praised the Embassy for issuing visas to the
parents in "no time." He said Abdellatif,s parents were
treated well in the U.S. and were especially grateful that
they were permitted to visit their son in a room without bars
or other dividers.

3.(SBU) Issa then turned to the conditions of Abdellatif's
pre-trial confinement. He said Abdellatif's parents, and the
MFA, are concerned about his physical and mental health.
According to Issa, Abdellatif is held in solitary
confinement. (Note: Jail officials told Abdellatif,s
GOE-financed lawyer that this is for his protection. End
note.) Issa said this is putting great mental strain on
Abdellatif, that he is "losing his judgment," and now devotes
his days to prayer. Issa fears that if Abdellatif is found
innocent and is not now a terrorist, this experience will
have turned him in to one. He also complained that
Abdellatif is a "big eater" and is not receiving sufficient
food. Issa said he has no comment on Abdellatif,s guilt or
innocence (although he said that the "fireworks" found in his
car may have been "understandable" given that Abdellatif was
on his way to "celebrate his birthday with friends"), but
asked if a way could be found to ease the conditions of his
confinement.

4. (SBU) Issa also said that the legal process seems to be
moving slowly. Issa said that Egypt is often criticized for
holding terrorism suspects for long periods without trial (he
used Congressional criticism of the draft anti-terrorism law
as an example), and said it would be hard for the Egyptian
press and public to see the difference between Abdellatif,s
situation and those for which Egypt is often criticized.
(Note: We asked if Abdullatif's lawyer had requested that
the case be brought quickly to trial. Issa conceded that the
lawyer had in fact requested a delay. End note.) He said
that to date, media coverage of the case has been limited in
Egypt because Abdellatif's parents have not spoken out,
fearing publicity could harm their son's case.

5. (SBU) Comment: We frequently raise cases of jailed
oppositionists, such as Ayman Nour, with the MFA. The MFA
may be using Abdellatif's case as a counterpoint to our
approaches on human rights issues. Nonetheless, Issa
appeared genuinely concerned about potential negative public
perceptions of the case in Egypt.

Ricciardone

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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