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Arabic press review: Left in a coma for days, imprisoned Egyptian lawyer dies

Rights groups say Ali Abbas Barakat, who had Hepatitis C, died from medical neglect. Meanwhile, Emirati officials interrogate Lebanese diplomat and Algerian handball players disappear in Germany
Ali Abbas Barakat had been imprisoned since 2016, but acquitted on all convictions until he disappeared in June 2022 (Twitter/@cfjusticeorg)

Egyptian lawyer dies as a result of medical negligence

An imprisoned Egyptian lawyer and human rights defender was in a coma for two days before he was transferred to an intensive care unit where he died earlier this month, human rights groups told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed newspaper.

Ali Abbas Barakat had been in prison since 2016. He had been convicted in multiple court cases, but had appealed and been acquitted on each account, including his latest acquittal in May 2022.

On 17 June last year he was transferred from prison to a police station in preparation for his release, but instead, he disappeared. On 7 July, he reappeared at the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo where he was accused of joining a terrorist group. 

Lawyers supporting Barakat have said he was tortured during his period of disappearance and have demanded an investigation into his detention and disappearance which they say was without any legal basis.

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Earlier this month, the newspaper reported that Barakat, whose health had deterorated as a result of a Hepatitis C infection, felt very tired and was left inside his cell without medical treatment. His family was prevented from checking on or visiting him.

On 10 June, his wife told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, he fell into a coma and was transferred in an unconscious state to Badr Prison Hospital near Cairo where he died. 

With Barakat's death, the number of deaths in prisons and official detention centres in Egypt has risen to 17 since the beginning of this year. Fifty-two prisoners died in 2022, either as a result of medical negligence, cold or natural death in difficult conditions of detention, according to independent human rights organisations.

UAE questions Lebanese diplomat at airport

Emirati authorities briefly held a Lebanese diplomat travelling through the UAE and interrogated him for several hours before releasing him, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported.

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Nizar Hashem, the honorary consul of Lebanon in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, was on his way from Beirut to China when he was detained for more than nine hours during a layover.

According to Al-Akhbar’s sources, Emirati security officials asked Hashem about his political leanings, and what he knew about Hezbollah’s activity in South America. He told them he had no political affiliation with the party.

While detained, Hashem missed his original flight and was forced to make a new reservation to continue his journey.

The diplomat is a dual Lebanese-Brazilian national and heads a charitable organisation supporting Lebanese orphans and children in Brazil.

Algerian handball players flee in Germany

Two players on Algeria’s national handball team fled during a trip to Germany for a tournament this month, apparently to seek asylum, Arabi21 has reported.

Fatisa Noureddine, 21, and Shayeb Adlan, 19, left all of their belongings in the hotel where they were staying for the World Youth Handball Championships to avoid drawing attention, Algerian Handball Federation president Karima Taleb said.

Local media reports and social media posts have indicated that the players fled in order to seek asylum and remain in Germany.

Taleb said Algeria’s embassy in Germany had informed the local police as well as Algerian authorities of the players’ disappearance. German authorities are conducting an investigation.

Paterson, New Jersey, and Ramallah twinned

Paterson, the third largest city in New Jersey, and Ramallah, the Palestinian city in the West Bank, have signed a twinning agreement, a move welcomed by Arab and Muslim communities in the US, Al-Quds Al-Arabi has reported.

The agreement, signed on Monday, will see the two cities cooperate in the fields of technology, culture, education and student exchange, among others.

'We are proud that our city is the first to start raising the Palestinian flag annually on the 15th of May'

- Andre Sayegh, Mayor of Paterson 

Twinning, the paper reported, also means supporting the rights of Palestinians to obtain their freedom and establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Paterson hosts the largest community of Palestinians and Arabs in New Jersey, many of whose families are from Ramallah and its surrounding villages.

The agreement comes a year after Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh redubbed the city’s Main Street to Palestine Way. 

"We are proud that our city is the first to start raising the Palestinian flag annually on the 15th of May,” Sayegh said, after signing the speech, in reference to Nakba Day which marks the start of the mass forced expulsion of Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1947.

“Our city is the only one that renamed a street Palestine Way. Today, we are proud of signing a friendship and twinning agreement with the city of Ramallah."

*Arabic press review is a digest of news reports not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye.

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