GENEVA (Reuters) - The daughter of the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has been detained in Egypt with her husband for three months without charge, the family and their lawyer have said in an urgent appeal to the United Nations.
Ola al-Qaradawi, 55, and Hosam Khalaf, 58, both U.S. residents, are being held in separate Cairo prisons in solitary confinement after being detained by state security forces at their summer home on June 30, the family and lawyer said.
Egyptian homeland security sources say the Qatari-Egyptian couple are accused of belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and of funding members of the banned group to spread information aimed at distorting Egypt’s image. The family denies the accusation.
The couple’s temporary detention was renewed by a criminal court last week for 15 days, but formal charges have yet to be laid.
Ola al-Qaradawi, a Qatari citizen, is the daughter of influential Qatar-based Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yousef al-Qaradawi whose assets have been frozen in Egypt.
Relatives came to Geneva last week to urge U.N. investigators on torture and on the right to health to take up the case with authorities. U.N. officials confirmed receipt of the appeal from Washington-based lawyer Jared Genser.
“Ola and Hosam are being held without access to their lawyers and family and are subjected to solitary confinement 24 hours a day in dark, small cells without beds or toilets,” the letter said.
“Ola and Hosam have repeatedly affirmed that they are not, nor have they ever been, members of the Muslim Brotherhood or any terrorist organization.”
Ola’s brother Mohamed al-Qaradawi told Reuters in Geneva: “There are no documents whatsoever, no arrest warrants, no evidence. They only communicate for three minutes every 15 days during the renewal (of their pre-trial detention).
“They (authorities) say it is a security case, for both.”
The couple was detained under a decision by the prosecutor of homeland security, two homeland security sources said.
“The investigations and information we’ve reached confirm that they are funding members of the Muslim Brotherhood to distort Egypt’s image and they transferred money to the accounts of three MB members outside of Egypt,” said a homeland security policeman in charge of the Muslim Brotherhood file.
“Based on the material evidence and investigations, homeland security prosecution detained them, and their detention is ongoing until they are referred to court,” he added.
The detention came three weeks after a crisis erupted between Qatar and four Arab states, including Egypt, who charge that Doha supports regional foe Iran and Islamists, charges Qatar’s leaders deny.
Khalaf, an Egyptian citizen, was formerly a senior member of Al-Wasat, a moderate Islamist political party, but has ceased any political activity, the family said. He was detained in Egypt without trial from 2014-2016, it said.
Reporting and writing by Stephanie Nebehay; additional reporting by Arwa Garballa and Ahmed Aboulenein in Cairo; editing by Jeremy Gaunt