Egypt Arrests Two Jordanians

Sunday 29 September 201910:22 am
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بتهمٍ لفقها إعلام النظام… السلطات المصرية تعتقل أردنيَّيْن بجرم "التصوير"

The friends and families of two Jordanian detainees in Cairo have accused Egyptian authorities of arresting them and fabricating false accusations against them and defaming them in pro local media.

According to an article published by Jordan’s 7iber on September 26, the two young Jordanian detainees in Egypt are Thaer Hussam Matar and Abdul Rahman Ali Al Rawajbah who appeared on the show “El Hekaya” which was broadcast on MBC Masr on the 24th of September. The show is presented by Amr Adeeb, an avid Sisi supporter.

Arrested for Taking Photos

In the episode, Adeeb presented a series of documents and recordings showing what he called “confessions” of a group of foreigners visiting Egypt, “gathering information for foreign organizations, filming demonstrations, posting pictures and videos, belonging to political parties opposed to the Egyptian government and inciting uprisings”.

The alleged "confessions" included statements by Palestinian, Dutch, Turkish nationals and an Egyptian working in Saudi Arabia who said he received $ 5,800 to convert them into Egyptian pounds and distribute them to young people to encourage them to take part in demonstrations, including Thaer and Abdel Rahman.

Adeeb went overboard in his incitement against the detainees whose “confessions” he aired, mentioning that they all entered Egypt this month with “prior intent” and that this was a plot by Qatar’s intelligence agencies and Mohamed Ali the ex-government contractor. The “confessions” focused on these two filming and following protests in Tahrir Square.

Thaer appeared on the show saying "I am an opponent of the Jordanian government's policy and I was a member of the Jordanian Communist Democratic Party. I followed the January 2011 revolution and supported the fall of the regime until the June 30 revolution and saw it as a military coup against the legitimate government of Mohamed Morsi." He added: "I went down with my colleague journalist Abdel Rahman Ali to attended the demonstrations on Friday (September 20) called for by Mohamed Ali and we took pictures and videos and posted these on social media to encourage people to start an uprising like the one of January 25th”.

Then there was a video of Abdel Rahman in which he said "I am a member of the Communist Party of Jordan and an opponent of the regime there. I was opposed to the June 30 revolution and consider it a coup against the legitimately elected government, my friend Thaer and I went down to Tahrir square where I shot videos and photos and posted them on Facebook”.

International human rights expert Fadi El-Qadi tweeted: “The alleged confessions that Amr Adeeb broadcast of two Jordanian men participating in protests and inciting against Egypt is in itself a criminal act besides being a cheap farce”.
The friends and families of two Jordanian detainees in Cairo accused Egyptian authorities of arresting them and fabricating false accusations to sensationalize the uprising and blame it on “foreign agents”.

Another Truth

7iber, however, published an article debunking what is being reported in the Egyptian media and even the statements of the two young Jordanians.

The Jordanian website quoted a joint friend of Thaer and Abdul Rahman, named Abdul Jabbar Zaytoon, as saying that they are his childhood friends and that Abdel Rahman has a great passion for cinema and after he finished his studies in journalism and media at the Yarmouk University of Jordan, he went to Egypt more than once and participated in two long workshops to make documentary films last year.

This was confirmed by Egyptian director Basil Ramses in a Facebook post published on September 25 in which he stressed that "all that Amr Adeeb screened is a lie at least in regards to Abd el Rahman” he said he was the last person to talk to him before he was arrested.

Thaer’s brother Najm Matar describes him as having studied mechanical engineering at the Hashemite University and wanting to continue his higher education in Germany. He began to learn German after his Jordanian teacher advised him to go to Egypt to learn at the Goethe Institute as it was better and less expensive than studying in Jordan.

According to the brother's account, Thaer came to Egypt in February and stayed there for five months, then returned to Jordan, before returning to Egypt in early September for the purpose of tourism and visiting friends in the German class, which he wanted to study.

As to why he chose this month specifically to visit Egypt, Zaytoun said that Abdel Rahman had wanted to attend the El Gouna Film Festival but then changed plans due to the death of his grandmother a few days ago and entering into mourning. He commented on the confessions “it’s obvious that they are reading something out and that they are terrified”.

Regarding the affiliation of the two detained friends to the Communist Party in Jordan, Najm stressed that Thaer is not a member of any party and is not involved in any political activity in or outside Jordan, adding that “the confessions they filmed him saying are a lie, in 2011 he was in the ninth grade and knew nothing about protests or what was going on in Egypt and had nothing to do with these things”.

Zeitoun explained that Abdel Rahman was a member of the student committee of the Communist Party at his university, but resigned from the party two years ago, specifically when he graduated from the university adding that “it was a student activity and is not really party politics, he left the party when he was 23 years old.

Basil Ramses said, "Abdel Rahman is a leftist, but his main interest in cinema, and he does not engage in any political activity and is not currently a member of the Jordanian communist party as they said in the show.”

How Were They arrested?

Thaer was arrested on 22 September while walking around Tahrir Square, and Egyptian police had no reason to arrest him. At the time, he wrote to his brother, Najm to inform the Jordanian Embassy in Egypt about what had happened.

Abdel-Rahman, according to Ramses's account, was arrested at dawn on 23 September from his home and not from Tahrir Square as Adeeb claimed on his program and was not caught in the criminal act of “taking a photo”.

Ramses pointed out that Abdel Rahman was searched on the evening of 22 September for 15 minutes by Egyptian security forces before they advised him to return to his residence. Zeitoun said he had been chatting with Abdel Rahman until 2 a.m. before he disappeared.

Ramses explained that he and Abdel Rahman's friends and relatives have remained silent since his arrest and have been in contact with officials in Egypt and Jordan in an effort to release him and his friend quickly, expressing his shock at what he saw in Amr Adeeb’s program.

Where Is Jordan?

As soon as they confirmed the arrest of their two sons, the families of Thaer and Abdel Rahman went to the Jordanian Foreign Ministry on September 24, and submitted official reports of the arrest of their two sons in Egypt only to have their fears allayed by "reassurances" from the ministry that the young men would be home “in two days” according to Abd el Rahman’s brother Mohamed as reported by 7iber.

However, the two families were surprised by Adeeb’s program and once again communicated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 25 September who assured them once again that "work is still underway to release the detainees and that they have received assurances from the Egyptian authorities of the safety of Thaer and Abdel Rahman.

In the meantime, the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that "the operations centre at the ministry and the Jordanian embassy in Cairo are following up on the particulars of the arrest of two Jordanian citizens” noting that they are "under investigation". It was noted in the same statement that a third Jordanian had been released after being arrested in Tahrir square around the same time that Thaer and Abd el Rahman had been arrested, but the families complained that they could not communicate with their detained sons to check on them.

Media’s Incitement

International human rights expert Fadi El-Qadi tweeted: “The alleged confessions that Amr Adeeb broadcast of two Jordanian men participating in protests and inciting against Egypt is in itself a criminal act besides being a cheap farce”.

Omar Awwad, a member of the Political Bureau of the Jordanian Communist Party, told 7iber that the episode "is sensationalistic and lacks objectivity", and condemned the broadcast of arrests to serve political agendas.

He stressed that the detainees are "Jordanian citizens regardless of whether they belong to the party or not " and that the important thing is to check on their safety and clarify the circumstances of their detention. He called on the Jordanian government to follow up the case and ensure that the two young men are treated fairly pending their return to Jordan.

The Jordanian lawyer Lynn Al-Khayyat said that what appeared on the program "cannot be considered a confession, has no legal value and cannot be counted on” explaining that “a legal confession cannot be televised but should be in front of a judge and a representative of state must be present, the accused must be able to communicate with a representative from his country and there must be a guarantee that this confession is not the result of coercion through the accused having legal representation that can talk on his behalf.”

Rare demonstrations against Egypt's current president Abdel Fattah El Sisi took place in Egypt on September 20 in the capital Cairo and in the cities of Mahalla, Alexandria and Suez. Protests continued the next day in Suez.

The Egyptian authorities forcibly dispersed the protests, imposed tight security on all vital areas of the country, and carried out continuous arrests that have so far resulted in the detainment of more than 1,909 citizens, according to the latest report by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights on September 26.

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