Friday, April 18, 2008

Mohammed Salah Ahmed Maree - a name the Egyptian security forces don't want you to repeat

I, like many other people, had heard the story of the American who was imprisoned in Egypt, but sent out a Twitter tweet that eventually led to his release.

Unfortunately, the story does not end there. Mark "Rizzn" Hopkins at Mashable linked to a Shel Israel post.

[James Karl Buck] was tossed into an Egyptian jail cell. Apparently, in Egypt where abuse of prisoners is common, they let him keep his phone. So, he Twittered a single word: "ARRESTED."

That put many wheels in motion and for him, it led to the US Embassy getting him out of both jail and back to...Oakland. But, Buck was told by police that his interpreter, Mohammed Maree was arrested and "he is a dead man." Since arriving here today. Buck has been doing his best to raise Hell on behalf of Mohammed. On his Twitter account he asks that anyone who cares contact Egyptian Press Consul Attiya A Shakran, (415) 346-3427 (415) 548-0556

Now, before jumping on a bandwagon, it's wise to make sure that you're not supporting someone who was trafficking in drugs or whatever. Here is James Karl Buck's account:

I am a student journalist, studying at University of California Berkeley. I came to Egypt 24 March 2008 to do some reporting for a student project. On 6 April I travelled to Mahalla having heard of the strike planned. On 7 April I returned and covered the ensuing riots. I was helped by a friend I'd met, Mohammed Salah Ahmed Maree. On 10 April around 6pm I was photographing outside the Mahalla police 1st station where some families who had missing sons, brothers, fathers that had been detained, in many cases without record (so the families don't know if their people are dead, or in jail, or what), were making a small protest outside the station, and I recorded some ambient audio (not interviews). Police surrounded me and despite the efforts of the crowd to get me free, police caught our taxi and told the driver I was from the CIA.

Now this shows a difference in perspective. I'm sure that when Buck is back at home in Berkeley, people don't point at him and say that he's from the CIA. But, in some countries, I'm sure that they're convinced that all Americans, including the late Jerry Garcia, are CIA operatives.

They boarded the taxi and took us to Mahalla 1st station and interrogated us, accusing us of being revolutionary leaders (not true) and demanded to see inside my bag. I held out for a few hours and on the condition of being released for the search, gave them the bag. They took my memory card and camera and searched the photos. We were not released.

People don't want you to see what they are doing. I could throw a New Testament quote in here, but some of you probably know the quotes better than I do, and others probably don't care. But keep that in mind.

Mohammed and I were accused, threatened and intimidated. We were not harmed physically. After midnight they took us to the prosecutor's office where we made statements and signed them (in Arabic) that we were students, not leaders, and they gave me back my camera. They kept my memory card. They gave us an unconditional release.

Repeat: we were released without condition, set free, no charges.

End of story? Not quite.

Outside the prosecutor's building we were again apprehended by the same officer who had driven us to the office and re-detained, despite telling him we were free. We were not allowed to go back to the prosecutor to get our release papers, despite having the record number. We were taken back to first station without charge or explanation. They said I could go free but Mohammed had to stay. I said no, I'll stay til we leave together since we were both freed without charge. I said I would not eat until our (his) unconditional release.

We stayed there several hours until around 8 or 9 am until my lawyer hired by my university arrived.

OK, my taxpayer dollars at work (I'm a California taxpayer) in odd ways, but I'll allow it this time. Sorry, Ron Paul.

He said he could take me but not Mohammed. I said no I would stay. During these past hours I had received many text messages and phone calls of support which kept me going and advised me. I stayed several hours with Mohammed until they took him to a seperate holding cell. I stayed on and waited for his release. During this time the city of Mahalla was locked down by police and a convoy of doctors, medical supplies, professors and journalists was stopped at the city border and detained. Police said they would release Mohammed after the afternoon prayer. Prayer came and went and no release.

I'm sure that violates some Islamic code somewhere.

Finally the chief said he was sending Mohammed to station number two and I had to leave. I asked to stay and was told no. I asked to go to station 2 and was told no. My lawyer took me back to Cairo and I plan to leave soon for the US.

Mohamed Salah Ahmed Maree remains in police custody without charge that I know of.

Buck describes the general situation in Egypt in more detail.

Now I'm sure that there are some people who are very supportive of Egypt's policies, just as there are some people who are very supportive of China's policies. But Paula Hawkins linked to a petition signed by at least 448 people (I'm number 448) who are not supportive, and are asking that Mohammed Maree be freed.

If you are so moved, please sign the petition.


[mrontemp business] | [mrontemp politics] | [mrontemp technology] | [mrontemp tags]

Sphere: Related Content
blog comments powered by Disqus