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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 19:21 GMT
Freed UK three return to families
Ian Nisbet, Maajid Nawaz and Reza Pankhurst
Family and supporters greeted the trio at Heathrow
Three British Islamists jailed for four years in Egypt over membership of a banned group have left for home after being questioned at Heathrow.

Hizb ut-Tahrir members Ian Nisbet and Reza Pankhurst, from London, and Maajid Nawaz from Essex, were granted early release from their five-year sentences.

Special Branch officers held them under terror laws for four hours after they landed at the London airport 1252 GMT.

The men say they have been repeatedly tortured for their political beliefs.

'Brutal regime'

They were arrested in 2002 for attempting to revive the Islamic organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir - banned by the Egyptian Government in 1974 - and served their sentences in a Cairo jail.

At Heathrow, their families and Hizb ut-Tahrir leaders welcomed them back with cheers and applause.

Mr Nisbet said they were imprisoned by a "brutal and evil" regime in Egypt.

They have never supported violence or terrorism in any shape or form
Stephen Jakobi
Fair Trials Abroad

"We were tortured and electrocuted and we and our families were threatened and we were forced to sign a confession we neither agreed with or sanctioned," he said.

"We experienced and witnessed and met people who were tortured in the most grotesque and obscene ways for belonging to political opposition parties.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the thousands of Egyptian political prisoners we have left behind."

Mr Nawaz's MP, there to greet the men, said he would be seeking a meeting with the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to discuss the incident.

Torture allegation

Stephen Jakobi, director of Fair Trials Abroad and the men's legal representative, said they were victims of gross injustice.

"They had been and remain devout Muslims committed to radical political change. They have never supported violence or terrorism in any shape or form," he said.

Ian Nisbet and Maajid Nawaz outside a Cairo court
The men were held in Cairo

"All three were beaten regularly and forcibly deprived of sleep. They were given filthy scraps of food and blindfolded and handcuffed behind their backs for many days."

Mr Jakobi said one of them was tortured using electric shocks because he was unable to reply to questions in Arabic. All three were held incommunicado for 11 days and denied legal access for 48 days officially.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which campaigns for all majority Muslim countries to become Islamic states, is outlawed in Egypt but remains legal in Britain.

However, the group believes that it may be banned in Britain under new laws passed which make glorifying terrorism an offence. Hizb ut-Tahrir denies any association with terrorism.


SEE ALSO:
Egypt jail trio rap UK 'apathy'
24 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Verdict on Egypt Britons delayed
25 Dec 03 |  England


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