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Middle East
Kuwait deports ElBaradei activists
Thirty-three Egyptians sent back for holding meeting in support of ex-IAEA chief.
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2010 08:57 GMT
ElBaradei has expressed willingness to run for Egyptian presidency [EPA]

Seventeen Egyptians deported from Kuwait for holding a meeting in support of potential Egyptian presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei, have arrived in Egypt.

The 17 were among 33 Egyptians detained by Kuwaiti authorities in Kuwait City on Friday.

The Egyptian activists belonged to a group on the social networking site Facebook aimed at promoting the pro-reform and former UN nuclear watchdog chief, ElBaradei.  

Kuwaiti officials said Egypt's internal politics should be kept in Egypt and not exercised abroad.

Rawodan al-Rawodan, Kuwait's minister of cabinet affairs, told Reuters in Cairo: "There are no Egyptian elections at the moment ... and it is unacceptable for nationals to take the internal politics of their countries to the host country."

Gamal Eid, head of the Arabic Network for Human Rights and Information (ANHRI) told Reuters: "These deportations are the Kuwaiti government's favour to the current Egyptian government.”

'Kuwaiti favour'

Kuwait is known to be grateful to those who had taken part in driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait in 1991, a year after Saddam Hussein ordered his troops to invade the country.

in depth

  Profile: Mohamed ElBaradei
  Video: Egypt welcomes ElBaradei home
  ElBaradei urges Egyptian reforms

Hosni Mubarak, the incumbent Egyptian president, is recognised for his disapproval of Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.

ANHRI charged that the deportation has no legal grounds.

Eid said: “There is no legal reason given or proof of indictment of these Egyptian nationals. These Egyptians have lost their livelihood because they wanted to express support to ElBaradei's National Coalition."

But al-Rawdan said: "These Egyptians are here to work, not to form groups. Kuwait does not interfere into Egypt's internal affairs."

The online group, with 378 members, had planned to hold its first meeting to launch the Kuwaiti branch of the Egyptian National Coalition for Change, a group set up by pro-ElBaradei activists in February.

ElBaradei, 67, has emerged as Egypt's most high profile pro-reform leader after retiring from the International Atomic  Energy Agency (IAEA) last year.

The Nobel laureate has said he would run for president if constitutional restrictions on independent nominations in next year's presidential elections were changed.

No one at the Egyptian embassy in Kuwait or at the foreign ministry in Egypt was immediately available to comment.

A host of Facebook groups - both inside and outside Egypt - have sprung up in support of ElBaradei. The Egyptian Facebook group now has over 200,000 members.

Egypt ranks first in the Arab world and 23 worldwide in terms of the number of Facebook users.

Source:
Agencies
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