The daughter of the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and her husband have been unlawfully detained in Egypt for the past year without formal charge, UN human rights experts said, calling for the couple’s release and compensation.
The Cairo government, in a reply published in the UN opinion, said Ola al-Qaradawi and Hosam Khalaf were accused of belonging to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, which it says is a terrorist group and providing financial support to it with the help of Qatar and Turkey.
The family denies the accusation and brought the case last September to the UN working group on arbitrary detention. In a statement, the family welcomed the opinion issued by the panel’s five independent experts, posted on the UN website.
Al-Qaradawi and Khalaf, US residents in their late 50s were taken into custody by state security forces without an arrest warrant in June 2017 and have been held largely incommunicado since, the UN panel said.
Ola al-Qaradawi, a Qatari citizen, is the daughter of influential Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yousef al-Qaradawi, whose assets are frozen in Egypt.
“The alleged legal basis for Ms. al-Qaradawi and Mr. Khalaf’s arrest and detention suffers from other serious defects,” it said, noting they were not brought before a judge and were denied access to family and lawyers.
The couple has not received a fair trial within a reasonable time and there was “no sign their criminal trial will take place soon”, the UN experts said. Their ordeals in prison amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Government said the case was based on an investigation by security services relating to an alleged plot by senior leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to create an armed wing aimed at overthrowing government.
The UN experts called on government to “remedy the situation” by releasing and compensating the couple.
Jared Genser, the family’s US-based lawyer, said in a statement: “The decision vindicates what we have maintained all along, that Ola and Hosam are innocent victims wrongly targeted and arbitrarily detained by the Government of Egypt”.
“They must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Egypt’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.