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Sunday, 20 October, 2002, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Britons 'tortured' in Egypt
Ian Nisbet
Ian Nisbet was arrested in March
Three Britons accused of trying to overthrow the Egyptian government claim to have been tortured in prison.

Ian Nisbet, 28, from east London, Reza Pankhurst, 27 and student Maajid Nawaz, 26, appeared in court in Cairo alongside 23 Egyptian nationals.

The men are charged with being members and spreading the message of the Islamic Liberation Party, Hizb ut-Tahrir which is outlawed in most Middle Eastern countries.

Mr Pankhurst and Mr Nawaz are also charged with having books and propagating the words of the party and Mr Pankhurst was also charged with having a computer.


They tortured me with electricity multiple times and we were all deprived of sleep

Reza Pankhurst

The three men, who all deny the charges against them, face up to 25 years imprisonment if convicted.

Speaking through the iron grille of the dock in the crowded State Security Court, the men said they had been tortured and only allowed to see lawyers after nearly two months in custody.

Mr Pankhurst said: "I was stripped naked, they beat me, they threatened me with sexual abuse.

"They tortured me with electricity multiple times and we were all deprived of sleep."

Mr Nisbet said he had been blindfolded and handcuffed in a room where other Egyptian prisoners were given electric shocks.

He said the three men were initially given just one blanket and only got a mattress after one and a half months.

Reza Pankhurst
Reza Pankhurst said he had been tortured

He added: "Initially I was quite ill because of the water and the food."

Britain's ambassador to Egypt, John Sawers, said he had raised concerns about allegations of torture with the Egyptian authorities and these were being investigated.

He added that the defendants had an interpreter and full access to lawyers.

But Mr Nisbet's wife Humera, who lives with their three-year-old son in Upton Park, east London, said: "We are very sceptical about the fairness of the trial, also the injustice of the whole process.

His parents, from Brackley, Northamptonshire, described the charges against him as "ludicrous".

Family devastated

Mr Nawaz's mother Abidah, 44, who had not seen her son for more than a year, was among relatives at court.

She said: "There's no charge of violence, so just send them back.

"Why carry on with this farce? It is a real farce - they just want to save face now."

In a statement, Amnesty International said: "Our concerns have grown following the apparent intransigence of the Egyptian authorities who are refusing to allow independent medical examinations of the men."

The trial was adjourned until 28 October.

Hizb ut-Tahrir is blamed by Egyptian authorities for an attempted coup in 1974 and terrorist operations.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Wood
"The Egyptian authorities call them dangerous Islamic militants"
Humera Nisbet
"Today the prosecution will be producing the evidence that they have "
Human rights lawyer Sadiq Khan
"The three men were members of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK"

Click here to go to BBC London Online

Click here to go to BBC Northamptonshire
See also:

18 Oct 02 | England
17 Oct 02 | England
04 Oct 02 | England
08 Aug 02 | England
05 Aug 02 | World at One
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