Exclusive: Information on missing Egyptian-German writer expected 'within hours'

Nada Hussein Rashwan, Tuesday 26 Nov 2013

Interior ministry aide says initial results of investigation into Hamed Abdel-Samad's disappearance will be revealed soon

Hamed Abdel-Samad
Germany based Egyptian writer Hamed Abdel-Samad (Photo: Reuters)

The results of a preliminary investigation into the disappearance of Egyptian-German writer Hamed Abdel-Samad will be released "within hours," a senior interior ministry aide has told Abdel-Samad's brother.

Mahmoud Abdel-Samad met a senior aide to Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Monday evening to discuss the suspected kidnapping of his 42-year-old brother.

"The minister's aide assured me that investigations should provide clues to the identity of the kidnappers within hours," he told Ahram Online on Tuesday.

Mahmoud said he had named two suspects: hardline Islamist figure Assem Abdel-Maged, who publicly declared Abdel-Samad an apostate earlier this year for his secularist views, and Abdel-Samad's business partners whom he says owes him a large sum of money.

"I'm not ruling out either suspects and I'm still waiting for the results of the investigation, but I think if it was Islamist extremists they would have killed him on the spot," he said.

"The media is too focused on portraying the incident as a kidnap by Islamists, but the ministry has not yet reached preliminary conclusions."

According to Mahmoud, Abdel-Samad disappeared on Sunday afternoon. He was in the eastern Cairo district of Al-Azhar at around 4pm when he called his interior ministry bodyguards, assigned to him by the German embassy, to tell them he believed a black car was following him.

"That was the last they heard from him," Mahmoud said. "They advised him to escape by taxi and 20 minutes later his phone was turned off."

The Germany-based author requested protection from the Egyptian authorities in June after ultra-conservative Islamists launched an online campaign calling for his death after he gave a keynote speech on "Islamic fascism" at a seminar in Cairo organised by Egypt's secularist movement.

He returned to Cairo again in November.

The German foreign ministry issued a statement on Monday saying Egyptian authorities were responsible for Abdel-Samad's safety.

Earlier on Monday, German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer told reporters in Berlin that he could not confirm reports that Abdel-Samad, a German citizen, had been kidnapped. He said Abdel-Samad's whereabouts was unknown and a crisis team had been set up to find him.

Schaefer said the writer had been in contact with the German embassy in Cairo about his personal security.

He said the German ambassador would meet with officials from the Egyptian foreign ministry and appeal for them to find Abdel-Samad.

According to Shaefer, the ambassador has already had a phone conversation with Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaaeddin.

Abdel-Maged and many other hardline Islamist figures remain at large despite arrest warrants issued against them during the interim government's crackdown on Islamists following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July. Thousands have been arrested since August following the dispersal two pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo, in which hundreds were killed.


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