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Egyptian Activists Mistreated

The United States is concerned over reports that several critics of the Egyptian government have been tortured in prison after being arrested for participating in a public demonstration.

Mohammed el-Sharkawi is a member of the Youth for Change, which is affiliated with the Kifaya opposition group. Police reportedly detained him and another activist, Kareem el-Sha'er, after they participated in a protest outside the Journalists' Syndicate in Cairo that was held simultaneously with a sit-in by three hundred judges outside the Egyptian Supreme Court. The judges were protesting the fact that two of their colleagues were put before a disciplinary panel for revealing that other judges had allowed fraud in Egypt's parliamentary elections in November 2005.

Following their arrest, police beat Mr. El-Sharkawi and Mr. El-Sha'er. Mr. El-Sharkawi claims he was also sexually assaulted. Egyptian officials deny the two activists were mistreated.

State prosecutors have ordered them to serve fifteen days in prison on charges of insulting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and illegal assembly and incitement. U.S. State Department acting spokesman Tom Casey says the United States is "deeply concerned by reports of continuing arrests and repression of civil society activists":

"We are troubled by the recent reports that Mohammed el-Sharkawi as well as Kareem [el-]Sha'er, another civil society activist, were arrested, and. . . .were tortured in custody and then denied independent medical treatment. If those allegations are true, that would certainly be a violation of Egypt's own laws as well as accepted international human rights standards and practices."

Mr. Casey said the U.S. embassy in Cairo has urged the Egyptian government to "investigate these cases and any others like them" thoroughly:

"Certainly, if the allegations are true, what we want to see happen is that the Egyptian government should take immediate steps to punish those responsible and put into place institutional measures to prevent those kinds of incidents from occurring."

Egypt's government, says U.S. State Department acting spokesman Tom Casey, should "protect the rights of their citizens to assemble and speak out peacefully."

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.