Egypt Watch

Egyptian authorities threaten family of asylum seeker in Canada

The Egyptian asylum seeker Abdelrahman El-Mady revealed that his family in Egypt were threatened after a Canadian official contacted the authorities in Cairo.

El-Mady blamed the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) for contacting the Egyptian authorities, which moved to silence his family. He confirmed that his father was arrested for two days.

Egypt regularly persecutes the families of Egyptians at home who speak out against their human rights abuses abroad as a way to silence them. El-Mady faces deportation from Canada after the CBSA said he was a “security threat.” It justified that by saying he is a member of the Freedom and Justice Party in Egypt, which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).

Canada does not class the MB as a terror group. However, it did not explain why it considered El-Mady as a threat. After the 2013 coup in Egypt, the new regime outlawed the MB. Thousands of the MB members, supporters, and their top leaders are among the 60,000 political prisoners in the country. Some of them have been systematically tortured and sentenced to death.

After 2013, El-Mady travelled to Saudi Arabia and then on to Canada in 2017. He was detained for two months in Vancouver and not given a battery for his hearing aid. El-Mady’s lawyer, Washim Ahmed, says that the CBSA accessed emails between him and his lawyer without his consent during his interrogation.

An 18 October 2017 transcript from Elmady’s detention-review hearing shows the counsel for the public safety minister saying the CBSA was seeking copies of a police summons issued against Elmady in Egypt. A transcript from 25 October 2017 shows that a liaison officer would travel to Egypt to speak to a government minister about the MB. The public safety minister’s counsel said he would be discreet and make limited inquiries.

El-Mady’s lawyers demanded increased oversight of the Canadian Border Services Agency. They pointed out that Canadian authorities usually would not communicate with a government that is allegedly persecuting someone.