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Egyptian Police Detaining U.S. Citizens in Egypt

Egyptian Police Detaining U.S. Citizens in Egypt, Reportedly at Request of US Embassy

By Elisabeth Geshiere afterdowningstreet.org

All we wanted to do was speak to a representative at the consulate in Cairo to ask for assistance in getting across the border to Gaza. When we got to the security gate a couple of blocks before the US embassy in Cairo, and showed our US passports and said that we wanted to go to the embassy, we were first asked to wait a while.

As we waited the group grew in size, eventually a banner for the Gaza Freedom March was unfurled and the police got nervous. We repeatedly asked to be allowed to go to the embassy, or to has a representative from the embassy come and talk to us.

Myself, David Tilsen, my nephew Mark Tilsen, Sylvial Schartz and the Chalbis were with a group of about 20 people. Eventually riot police with helmets, batons etc, appeared and locked arms. They brought in metal gates and corralled us in the middle of the street. For five hours people were not allowed to leave, use a bathroom, or have any food or water brought in.

We were told by the Egyptian police that we were being detained at the request of the Embassy. Later, after much negotiation, some pushing and shoving, and tempers flaring, we were told that any citizen had a right to talk to a member of the councilor's office. We knew this.

Finally they let people go, but many people were, at this time in need of bathrooms, or food but the five Minnesotans stayed and did finally see someone from the consulate's office. We made a formal request that the Egyptian government be asked to allow us to enter Gaza. We were told that Egypt was a sovereign government and their decision to not allow us in was their decision. We made the request anyway.

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We did not raise the issue at the time of our detention because we did not want to cloud the request to get into Gaza with another request at this time.

We do intend to seek, somehow a review or response from the American Government on this issue.

I am sending this to Jake Spano from Senator Klobuchar's office, Jake, what can be done about this? Remember please though, that getting the border crossing open is the immediate issue.

ENDS

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