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Egyptian dissidents at risk of being deported by Sudan

Sources tell Middle East Eye that men have been denied access to lawyers and some show torture marks
From top left: Ahmed Mahmoud, Fawzi El-Feky, Mahmoud el-Feky, Saeed Abdel Aziz, Taha Abdelsalam, Yaser el-Sabahy, Hossam Hassan, Amr Bakr, Ahmed Taha (Supplied/MEE)

Sudanese authorities have detained and tortured at least nine Egyptian nationals who are opponents of Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, highlighting a warming of ties between the two military-backed governments, sources told Middle East Eye.

A Sudanese lawyer with intimate knowledge of the arrests told MEE on Friday that the nine Egyptians were at grave risk of being deported.

"They have been denied access to lawyers, family visits, and access to food and medical supplies from their families under the pretext of preventing coronavirus," the Sudanese lawyer told MEE on condition of anonymity. 

Another Sudanese source said the actual number of arrested Egyptians was closer to 40.

Haitham Ghonim, an Egyptian human rights advocate, said that the families of the detained Egyptians had not publicised the arrests for fear of reprisals by the government.

"It is incomprehensible that a government that followed a pro-democracy revolution would deport Egyptian pro-revolutionary dissidents to an authoritarian government," Ghonim told MEE.

According to the Sudanese lawyer, some of the detainees were forcibly disappeared for 15 days, and some bore torture marks on their bodies when they appeared before prosecutors. 

The second Sudanese source, who is in close contact with families of some of the detainees, said that Egyptian security officers had taken part in the interrogations of some of the dissidents.

Ghonim said that at least three Egyptian dissidents were arrested and deported under the government of Omar al-Bashir, after Sisi began to mend ties with Khartoum. 

Still, under the new Sudanese leadership, which took power in 2019, only one deportation had been documented.

It was not immediately clear whether the arrests were part of a deal between Egyptian and Sudanese authorities to detain and deport Egyptian nationals wanted by Cairo. 

'Blue marks all over his body'

The Sudanese lawyer told MEE that Ahmed Hanafy Abdelhakim Mahmoud - one of the detained Egyptians -  had "blue marks all over his body" when he appeared at a prosecutor's office, presumably as a result of torture. 

He was arrested on 8 February but no charges were made against him. 

The lawyer added that Mahmoud is a former Egyptian political prisoner detained in Egypt for six months on charges of anti-government protests. He was released after posting bail. 

Hanafy
Ahmed Hanafy Abdelhakim Mahmoud (MEE/supplied)

He said four of Mahmoud's brothers (Abdulhakim, Mohamed, Walid, Abdullah) had also gone "missing" since their arrest in Egypt on 27 January 2019.   

The other detainees rounded up in Sudan since February include:

  • Fawzi Aboul Fath El-Feky, 60, accountant, arrested on 13 February
  • Mahmoud Fawzi Abould Fath el-Feky, 25, sales representative, arrested on 13 February
  • Saeed Abdel Aziz, 55, arrested on 13 February
  • Taha Abdelsalam al-Megeeas, 48, restaurant owner, arrested on 12 February
  • Yaser el-Sabahy, 24, student at Africa University, arrested on 2 March
  • Hossam Hassan, 25, medical student, arrested on 5 March
  • Amr Ahmed Abdelmaksoud Bakr, 22, university student, arrested on 28 February
  • Ahmed Taha, arrested on 13 February. 

According to the lawyer, deportation of these detainees is "likely to happen anytime," particularly amid the recent rapprochement between Sisi's government and Sudan's ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC).

The Egyptian embassy in Khartoum did not reply to MEE's request for comment by the time of publication. 

The head of Egypt's intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, has paid several visits to Khartoum, most recently on Thursday, when he met with the TMC head Abdelfattah Burhan to "discuss bilateral relations" as well as the contentious Renaissance Dam project. 

The deputy head of the TMC, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (also known as Hemeti), is known for his close ties with Egypt's Sisi and visited Cairo on 14 March, but it remains unclear whether the bilateral visits included agreements related to the deportation of Egyptian dissidents in Khartoum. 

Since Sisi seized power from the democratically elected government of Mohamed Morsi in a 2013 coup, his government has jailed more than 60,00 alleged dissidents.

Rights groups have repeatedly accused the Sisi government of torturing and mistreating political prisoners in the country's overcrowded prisons.