CAIRO (AFP) — Egyptian human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim fears he will be arrested, killed and his murder dressed up as suicide if he returns to Egypt, a newspaper quoted him as saying on Thursday.
The Egyptian-American sociologist, currently in Switzerland because of an ongoing clampdown by the Egyptian authorities, told Al-Masri al-Yom that the authorities would use their powers of detention without trial to jail him.
"I expect that I will be detained for questioning and placed in provisional detention, on the pretext that I might flee abroad," said Ibrahim, who was sentenced in 2001 to seven years in prison for "tarnishing Egypt's reputation."
While in that trial he was eventually freed on appeal, the 68-year-old Ibrahim said this time he feared being murdered in his cell.
"They will say Saad Eddin Ibrahim had a guilty conscience, that he could not live with himself because he sold out his country, and so he committed suicide," he said.
Ibrahim was also arrested in 2000 after publishing a critique of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his government. He served 10 months in jail.
He said that various cases brought against him in absentia in Egypt were part of a campaign of repression also targetting journalists and the opposition Muslim Brotherhood aimed at preparing 79-year-old Mubarak's succession.
"The regime is going through a serious crisis, which is getting worse every day," he said.
Several journalists have in recent weeks been given custodial sentences of up two years on charges ranging from misquoting the justice minister to discussing Mubarak's health.
Dozens of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's main political opposition force, have also been rounded up in a wave of arrests in recent months.
An international meeting of 40 media rights groups meanwhile called on Egypt "to stop pursuing journalists and threatening them with imprisonment simply for expressing their critical opinions of the Egyptian government."
The meeting of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange in Montevideo said in a statement that recent court cases against Egyptian journalists aim "to terrorise independent and opposition journalists and to penalise them for their writings."
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