His lawyer has responded to the arrest, saying that the military is using “trumped-up charges” to detain his client.
In comments published by Al-Jazeera, Katie Taylor of Reprieve, a legal charity based in the UK and which represents prisoners in Guantanamo Bay, said that al-Gazzar had suffered a “decade-long ordeal of torture and detention without trial."
“He arrived home to Egypt, only to face further discredited, trumped-up charges,” she added.
Al-Gazzar, however, had been sentenced in absentia in 2001 for his alleged affiliation with a group called al-Wa’ad.
Mark Jones, an international security expert and a former consultant for the State Department on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, told Bikya Masr that al-Gazzar should not need to serve any more time in prison, despite the previous case against him.
“The man has already spent 10 years in a horrible prison in Guantanamo and now the Egyptians feel it is necessary to imprison him again in their own, poor prison system?” he said, adding that “it just doesn’t make any logical sense. The man deserves to be free and get on with his life, not spend another three years in jail.”
All this comes on the heels of the military admitting on Monday to human rights workers that they had sentenced over 7,000 civilians to prison using military courts since former President Hosni Mubarak was forced out of office by street demonstrations in January and February. That number has left many human rights organization, activists and advocates of free speech and assembly angered over what they are now saying are excesses that are close to, if not on par with, the former regime.
Hafez Abu Saeda, the head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) told Bikya Masr that it was “unacceptable” to continue the same practices of the Mubarak government. He said that although he understands the military is attempting to maintain order, “there must be transparency and they must follow the rule of law if we are to get Egypt back on the right track.”
For al-Gazzar, a decade in American confinement appears not enough to satisfy the Egyptian interim government at present, but according to Iranian professor and expert on Islamist movements Zahir Mustafa, it is exactly what the radical groups in the region want.
“We must be careful that these situations do not continue because it is a great way to foment anger and recruitment among the more conservative circles in the country,” the professor said.
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