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Human rights group wants military council to press for repatriation of Blind Sheikh

Spiritual leader of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, jailed for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, should be returned to Egypt for health reasons, says Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights

Ahram Online, Monday 14 Nov 2011

The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights has released a statement urging the military council to press for the repatriation of Omar Abdel Rahman, ‘the Blind Sheikh’, to Egypt for health reasons.

Abdel Rahman, spiritual leader of Egypt's Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya, has been held in US-based facilities for involvement in the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.

According to an EOHR statement on Monday, Abdel Rahman has been suffering from diabetes for 40 years which has resulted in severe damage to one of his feet. Doctors have recommended an amputation but the Sheikh has reportedly refused this course of action.

Additionally, Abdel Rahman is suffering from high blood pressure, chronic stomach problems, chronic headaches, an inflammation of the pancreas, and is currently being fed through a nose tube.

The statement also said the Sheikh is not allowed visitors and the last time he received visitors was in 1999 when his wife was allowed to see him. He is permitted two 15 minute phone calls per month, and was subjected to solitary confinement for 18 years.

“Therefore the organisation believes his life should be protected and he should be provided with the proper health care in respect to all international treaties regarding the treatment of prisoners,” the statement said. “Therefore we ask the military council to promptly transfer him to Egypt so he can be treated in his country, and because Egyptian law allows the release of prisoners who are suffering ill health.”

Since the revolution, Islamists have been campaigning hard for the release of Abdel Rahman, with several protests and sit-ins staged in front of the US embassy.

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