Friday,20 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1249, (4 - 10 June 2015)
Friday,20 July, 2018
Issue 1249, (4 - 10 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Setting a precedent

Mohamed Sultan’s deportation to the US will encourage other Muslim Brothers with dual nationality to petition for extradition from Egypt, writes Amany Maged

Al-Ahram Weekly

The release and deportation to the US of Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Salah Sultan, a defendant in the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Operations Room case, raises questions about the future of dual national Muslim Brotherhood members in detention pending trial.

Sultan, who had been on hunger strike for 490 days, rescinded his Egyptian nationality before being flown to the US.

The son of Salah Sultan, a detained Muslim Brotherhood leader currently facing a death sentence, Mohamed, who had been living in the US, returned to Egypt following the 25 January 2011 Revolution. Arrested in August 2013, he was found guilty of torturing Muslim Brotherhood opponents in the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Operations Room Case. Sentenced to life, he went on hunger strike in January 2014.

Omar Sultan, Mohamed's brother, announced on Facebook that his brother had been released following extensive efforts on his behalf by the US government. His family issued a statement saying: “By the grace of God we are glad to confirm that Mohamed is returning home to us after having spent two years in prison… following lengthy efforts the US government has been able to ensure his return to us, bringing to a close a black chapter for us and for Mohamed.”

Following Sultan’s release prosecutors said his defence team had submitted a petition to allow their client to complete his sentence in the US. The petition was submitted to the president who ratified the decision to deport.

Prosecution authorities stress the deportation complies with Law 140 of 2014. The first article of the law states: “Without violating the provisions of laws and international agreements pertaining to the handover of criminals and the transfer of persons against whom sentences are being carried out in Egypt, the President of the Republic may, based on a submission by the general prosecutor and after the agreement of the cabinet, approve the handover of defendants and the transfer of sentenced persons to their countries for the purpose of standing trial or serving the sentences passed against them… when this is in the higher interests of the state.”

The Prosecutor General’s Office says Sultan will complete his sentence in the US.

Washington had repeatedly expressed misgivings about the life sentence passed against Sultan.

"The US is deeply concerned that Egypt, instead of releasing the US citizen Mohamed Sultan, today sentenced him to life. The [Egyptian] government must redress this injustice", wrote Samantha Power, Washington’s permanent ambassador to the UN, on her Twitter account on 11 April.

Lawyer Samir Sabri argues that Sultan’s release opens the door for other members of the Muslim Brotherhood to escape sentences passed against them.

In statements to the press Sabri drew attention to the fact Essam Al-Haddad, Mohamed Morsi’s assistant for foreign affairs who is a defendant in a high profile espionage case, has British nationality as do his sons Gihad Al-Haddad, a defendant in the same case, Abdullah Essam Al-Haddad, a Muslim Brotherhood based a broad who faces charges of inciting violence in Egypt and Walid Al-Haddad, foreign relations coordinator of the now banned Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing.

Other members of the Brotherhood who could benefit from the precedent set by Sultan’s release include Ahmed Abdel-Ati, former director of the president's office under Morsi and a defendant in the espionage case who holds Algerian nationality and FJP media advisor Murad Ali, a defendant in the Operations Room case who holds Austrian citizenship. Khaled Al-Qazaz, presidential secretary under Morsi, has already been released for health reasons and repatriated to Canada.

Researcher on Islamist movements Magdi Al-Sayed predicts the coming weeks will see a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders relinquishing their Egyptian nationality in order to return to other countries of which they are nationals. Al-Sayed also criticised images circulating on the internet following Sultan's release, one of which showed him prostrate in prayer the moment he reached American soil.

Hashtags, both supporting and opposing Sultan’s deportation, were launched as soon as the news became public.

Strategic expert General Adel Suleiman says any talk of victory or defeat in connection with Sultan’s deportation is redundant, while political analyst Ali Yasser Al-Zaatra argued that though the Egyptian authorities compelled Sultan to relinquish his Egyptian nationality before releasing him, Egyptian identity comprises more than a piece of paper issued by the regime.

The hashtag Sultan victorious attracted a number of conflicting comments. Many of those posting pointed out that Sultan’s deportation in accordance with extradition laws, following a hunger strike that brought him close to death and allowed only after he relinquished his Egyptian nationality, can hardly be termed a victory.

Following Sulltan’s extradition experts expect other countries to follow Washington's lead, ratcheting up pressure on the Egyptian government to secure the release of Brotherhood members with dual nationality convicted, or who are awaiting trial, in terrorist related cases.

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