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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 15:57 GMT
Blair urges action for Egypt prisoners
Ian Nisbet and Maajid Nawaz
Ian Nisbet and Maajid Nawaz are led into a Cairo court
The prime minister has urged an Egyptian minister to help resolve the case of three Britons detained in the country since April 2002.

Maajid Nawaz, 25, from Westcliff near Southend in Essex, was arrested with Londoners Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst.

The three men, along with 23 Egyptians, were accused of promoting a banned Islamic liberation party and trying to overthrow the Egyptian Government.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons he had approached the Egypt foreign minister to help with the case.

Mr Blair had been put under pressure to get involved by families of the three Britons as well as others MPs after further delays in legal procedures in Egypt.

Torture claims

The men had expected to learn their fate at Egypt's Emergency High State Security Court on Christmas Day last year, but their case was adjourned again and will now be heard on 25 March.

Southend West MP David Amess had been calling for the prime minister to intervene personally in the case for some time and described the situation an important "human rights issue".

Mr Blair said he had now taken action, but added: "I do ask people to understand that because of the history of this issue in Egypt it is a sensitive matter for the Egyptian authorities as well."

The men have claimed they were tortured and forced to sign confessions in custody in Egypt.

Alistair Nisbet, Ian's father who comes from Northamptonshire, told the BBC the case had become "a farce".

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