Human Rights Watch (HRW) has condemned authorities in Kuwait for “unlawfully” returning eight Egyptians to Cairo over claims they were part of a “terrorist cell” linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
The New York-based rights group said the eight dissidents were handed over to Egypt on Monday despite “the serious risk of torture and persecution they face in Egypt”. The deportations appeared to violate international law, the group said in a statement on the same day.
The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior announced the men’s arrest in a statement on Friday.
It said the Muslim Brotherhood-linked group had been convicted of “terrorism” in Egypt and had fled to Kuwait. During interrogations, the men confessed to Kuwaiti authorities of “carrying out terrorist activities … in different parts in Egypt,” the statement said.
The official Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) identified the men as Hossam Ibrahim al-Adl, Abdel Rahman Mohamed Ahmed, Abu-Bakr Atef al-Fayiomi, Abdel Rahman Ibrahim Abdel Moniem, Walid Suleiman, Najeh Awad, Faleh Hassan, and Mo’men Abu Al-Wafa.
Al-Adl’s daughter, Menna al-Adl, told the HRW men in civilian clothes arrested her father on July 10.
She said the 57-year-old had been living legally in Kuwait since October 2013 and had never been arrested before. However, an Egyptian court had sentenced him to five years in prison in 2016 for allegedly participating in a protest that year even though he had left the country three years before.
“Kuwaiti authorities have put at grave risk eight men who fled mass oppression in Egypt and thought they had found refuge in Kuwait,” said Sara Leah Whitson, HRW’s Middle East and North Africa director.
“It’s horrendous that Kuwait is acting at the behest of abusive Egyptian security agencies and returning dissidents to face torture and persecution,” she said.
‘Cooperation will continue’
The HRW said there was no record of any judicial review of the deportation orders or of the risks faced by the men on their return to Egypt. It also urged an end to further deportations.
Khaled Al-Jarallah, Kuwait’s deputy foreign minister, defended the move on Sunday, saying the deportations were carried out under an extradition agreement between Egypt and Kuwait in 2017.
“This cooperation is ongoing and will continue because we know the security of Egypt is the security of Kuwait,” he was quoted as saying by the al-Anba newspaper.
The al-Qabas newspaper, quoting security sources, said on Sunday that 300 Egyptians had fled Kuwait “as a precautionary measure” following the arrest of the eight men.
Unlike Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Kuwait does not consider the Muslim Brotherhood a “terrorist” group.
Egypt, which outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood as a “terrorist” organisation in 2013, did not officially comment about the arrests or deportations.
It has arbitrarily detained tens of thousands of activists since the military toppled the first democratically elected president of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, in 2013. He died in June following a court appearance on espionage charges.
HRW said one Egyptian deported from Turkey in January and five others from Malaysia in March were reported missing upon their return to Cairo.
The man deported from Turkey later appeared in a court hearing in March with signs of torture, the group said, quoting his lawyer.