UAE: Egyptian Detainee Alleges ‘Brutal’ Torture
The son of an adviser to the former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsy has claimed that United Arab Emirates authorities subjected him to “brutal physical and psychological torture." The taped message by Mosaab Ahmed Abd el Aziz, 27, said Emirati authorities tortured him to get him to confess to membership in the Muslim Brotherhood.
“If I was asked to confess to coming from Mars to destroy earth, I would have, just to get it over with,” he said in a 90-second statement he delivered via a phone call to his family from Al Wathba prison in October 2015, where he is awaiting trial. Human Rights Watch has listened to the recording, in which Abd el Aziz spoke in English.
“Any country whose citizens earn their living in the UAE should express their great concern over these torture allegations,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director. “This is a country where the state security apparatus is accused over and over of torturing people to get confessions.”
Abd el Aziz has been detained since his arrest on October 21, 2014, on charges that he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He told his family that he had spent three months after his arrest in a state security facility that has been the subject of numerous credible allegations of detainee torture. Abd el Aziz’s sister, Yara, told Human Rights Watch that since his transfer to Al Wathba prison in early February 2015, he has been able to make telephone calls to his family every week or two. In a call to his family on February 10, 2016, Abd el Aziz told them that he had been taken to a meeting the previous day with a public prosecutor, who had presented what he said were evidence of Abd el Aziz’s links to the Muslim Brotherhood and told him that his trial would begin the week of February 20. Abd el Aziz told his family that that he has not spoken to a lawyer since his arrest.
Abd el Aziz had lived in the UAE for 20 years before his arrest and had been working for a mobile application development company. In the recording, he claims to have had no interest or involvement in politics, and attributes his arrest to the work of his father, Ahmed Abd el Aziz, with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. He implies that the torture he endured, which he does not describe in any detail, has left him with what he says is “permanent damage” to his ears.
On January 7, 2015, Ahmed Abd el Aziz posted a video to YouTube in which he called on the UAE authorities to release his son, alleging that he had been “kidnapped by United Arab Emirates’ security forces” because of the father’s position as a member of Morsy’s staff. Morsy was ousted as Egyptian president in July 2013.
Egypt is a key ally of the current UAE government. In August, 13 security officers in civilian clothes arrested Emirati academic Nasser bin Ghaith for criticizing the Egyptian security forces’ mass killing of demonstrators in Cairo’s Rab’a Square in August 2013. He posted the comments on social media on the two-year anniversary of the massacre. Bin Ghaith’s whereabouts remain unknown.
Four former detainees of the UAE’s state security facility told Human Rights Watch that their interrogators tortured them into confessing to links to the Muslim Brotherhood after their detention in August 2014.
Four Libyan nationals detained at the same time, are facing an unfair trial in the UAE for links to armed and political groups in Libya. Greg Craig, a US-based lawyer representing two of the defendants, Mohamed and Kamal Eldarat, told Human Rights Watch that he spoke to Mohamed Eldarat by telephone on January 20, 2016, and that Eldarat said he was deaf in his left ear as a result of his treatment by interrogators.
In November 2014, the UAE state news agency reported that the cabinet had “approved a list of designated terrorist organizations and groups in implementation of Federal Law No. 7 for 2014,” the UAE’s repressive counterterrorism law. The Muslim Brotherhood is one of the organizations on the list. The law allows any act that courts deems to have antagonized the government, stirred panic, or undermined national unity to be designated as terrorism. A person convicted of seeking to join a terrorist organization can receive a life sentence.
UAE authorities should undertake independent and timely criminal investigations into Abd el Aziz’s and all other credible allegations of torture at its state security facility, leading to the identification and prosecution of those responsible, Human Rights Watch said. Abd el Aziz should receive independent forensic medical exams and any evidence obtained by torture should be excluded from his trial.
“Hearing Mosaab Abd el Aziz speak about the pain inflicted by his jailers greatly increases our concern that the UAE’s state security apparatus is using torture to elicit false confessions,” Stork said.