The POMED Wire

Members of Congress Seek Answers from Tillerson about Egypt’s Detention of U.S. Teen

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this morning, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) express concern about 17-year-old Ahmed Hassan, a New Jersey native, who has been imprisoned in Egypt since November 20, 2016.

The members of Congress acknowledge the importance of the U.S.-Egypt strategic partnership, but raise concerns about Egyptian authorities’ respect for human rights, civil liberties, and the treatment of approximately 20 American citizens jailed in Egypt.

The letter can be seen here.

Full text of the letter is as follows:

April 25, 2017

The Honorable Rex W. Tillerson
Secretary of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Tillerson:

We write with concern about the continued imprisonment in Egypt of New Jersey native Ahmed Hassan since November 20, 2016. On February 19, 2017, Ahmed, 17 years old, was sentenced to a one year sentence for attempting to prevent the arrest of his uncle. Ahmed’s uncle was charged for building without a permit. According to his family and his lawyers, Ahmed was beaten by police officers and thrown in a dark, crowded prison cell with adult prisoners. Additionally, he was denied access to a …

Turkey Approves Sweeping Presidential Powers, U.S. Policymakers Respond


On April 16, amid contested balloting results and street demonstrations by opposition parties and voters, Turkey’s referendum vote came down in favor of expanding presidential powers for President Recip Tayyip Erdogan, granting him sweeping executive powers that rights groups viewed as potential “death knell” for Turkish democracy. Preliminary counts put the vote at 51.3 percent in favor and 48.6 percent opposed.

A last-minute order issued by the country’s Supreme Election Board, dominated by AKP members, allowed ballots without the official stamp to be counted. Turkish opposition parties immediately called for an annulment of the referendum results. Bulent Tezcan, the deputy leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said by accepting unstamped ballots, the electoral body “changed the rules of the game halfway through the match.” CHP deputy Erdal Aksunger suggested that “2.5 million votes are in dispute, and in some areas, such as the predominantly Kurdish southeast, almost half the votes could be challenged.” According to the Los Angeles Times, Aksunger estimated that “1.5 million unstamped envelopes and voting papers were given to voters, and there were also many incidents in which envelopes and voting papers were stamped after the ballots were opened.”The Organization for

A Quick Look at Egypt’s New State of Emergency Measures

By Jenna Amlani

In the wake of the April 9 Palm Sunday bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, the Egyptian government responded with a number of legal measures aimed at strengthening the country’s ability to fight terrorism.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a three-month nationwide state of emergency, which was unanimously approved by Parliament two days later. This is the first time a nationwide state of emergency has been imposed since Egypt adopted a new constitution in 2014. After a state of emergency has been in effect for three months, it can only be extended by two-thirds parliamentary approval.

The House of Representatives later voted in favor of an amendment to the emergency law that, according to the Head of Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee Kamal Amer, “allows state authorities to detain anyone suspected of terrorist activity for seven days after getting the prosecution’s approval” and “authorizes Emergency High State Security courts to order the detention of highly dangerous elements for one month in jail, which is subject to renewal.”

Mada Masr explained that the amendment is similar to a provision in the 1958 Emergency Law which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court in 2013 because it

Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Record: Then and Now

By Michael Marinelli

On March 14, President Donald Trump met with Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, after which the White House described its “support for a strong, broad, and enduring strategic partnership.” A statement from the Saudi government said that U.S.-Saudi “relations had undergone a period of difference of opinion,” but the meeting “has put things on the right track and marked a significant shift in relations.” At least publicly, the Trump administration has signaled little interest in the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia. But, an comparison of U.S. government and prominent rights organization reports from 2003 and 2016 illustrates the history of Saudi’s poor rights record.

In its 2003 ‘Freedom in the World’ report, Freedom House rated Saudi Arabia 7 on overall freedom, civil liberties, and political rights – the worst possible score. According to the report, freedom of religion was virtually non-existent; women remained second-class citizens; freedom of expression was severely restricted; the judiciary was subject to the influence of the royal family; and Saudi citizens faced arbitrary arrest, prolonged pretrial detention, or torture at the hands of security forces. In 2016, Freedom House reported equally troubling findings despite

Sen. Rubio Highlights Egypt Human Rights Abuses, Demands Aya Hijazi’s Release

In a speech on the floor of the Senate on April 4, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) highlighted Egypt’s troubling human rights record. Sen. Rubio met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ahead of the speech, and acknowledged Egypt’s efforts to fight the Islamic State. He said “I believe [Egypt’s human rights record] is at its worst in decades, and that is saying something.” He added, “These abuses … are actually conducive to jihadi ideaology,” and that people are more attracted to militancy “when they feel they are being mistreated.” He also reiterated his call for the immediate release of American citizen Aya Hijazi. The full speech is available below.

In a separate statement on March 31, Sen. Rubio said, “While our two countries seek a deeper relationship, it’s important for Egypt to make progress on human rights, democracy, and economic reforms. I urge President Trump to press for the release of political prisoners in Egypt, including jailed Americans, and encourage Egypt to allow greater space for civil society and freedom of expression for all, and permit non-governmental organizations to operate freely.”


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