DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – United Arab Emirates authorities held an Egyptian journalist without charge and subjected him to mistreatment in a secret prison on accusation of membership in an Islamist group, a human rights group said Monday.
The Emirates Centre for Human Rights said Anas Fouda, employed with the Dubai-based MBC media group, was arrested by state security officials on July 3 and held until he was deported back to Egypt on Aug. 4. Fouda claims he was kept in solitary confinement by authorities, who deprived him of sleep until he was unable to stand.
The allegations come as the UAE widens a crackdown on groups with suspected links to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization to which ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi belongs. The UAE, one of the Arab world's most outspoken critics of the Brotherhood, has been quick to quash any Arab Spring-inspired dissent and has noted its "satisfaction" at the turn of events in Egypt.
In July of this year, 69 people accused of membership in a banned Islamist group backed by the Brotherhood were convicted of plotting against the country's ruling system. Another 30 suspects, including Egyptians, await trial for alleged links to Brotherhood networks.
Emirati authorities could not be reached for comment on Fouda's case.
The journalist says he is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but claims to be not politically active in the Emirates. Authorities accused him however of being part of a Brotherhood cell in the UAE, he told The Associated Press over the phone from Turkey.
He says he was kept in solitary confinement in a windowless cell that was kept constantly lit to keep him awake, and was unable to stand on his own by the time of his release.
"I was not able to sleep (except for) every 48 hours, when I would collapse from exhaustion ... With every day my health worsened," he said.
Centre director Rori Donaghy expressed concerns for the well-being of other prisoners, including two other Egyptian journalists being held without charge in the United Arab Emirates.
"We are concerned there are others being illegally held and subjected to the same harsh treatment as Anas," Donaghy said.