Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 12:15 AM ET, 03/ 6/2011

Egyptian protesters breach ‘torture center,’ seize files

By Jeff Stein

Egyptian protesters breached a secret police compound in eastern Cairo on Saturday and carted boxes of files, according to rights activists and Egyptian media reports.

“Protesters entered the State Security Investigations (SSI) compound in Nasr City, a place they call the ‘torture center’ of Egypt, just before 7 p.m.,” Priyanka Motaparthy, a research fellow with U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, reported from the scene.

“They dragged out as many documents and materials as they could, to protect them from being destroyed,” Motaparthy added.

Army officers did nothing to stop them, she said.

“Protesters began gathering in front of the Nasr City compound around 4 p.m. and by 5:30," Motaparthy reported. "We observed a crowd of at least 250” persons gathered outside. “Just before 7, we found a side entrance, where army officers stood by as people entered.”

The invaders amassed “several large trash bags full of shredded paper, file folders still intact, computer hard drives, and a green metal safe,” Motaparthy reported.

UPDATE: "These events happened inside a walled compound, which had mutiple buildings inside," Motaparthy added Sunday. "It's true that army officers didn't stop protestors from looking through and collecting documents inside the courtyard of the compound. However, the army did not allow people to remove documents from the compound, and they frisked them as they were leaving to ensure this. The army retains custody of the documents, and the public prosecutor's office is overseeing as well."

Some protesters “wandered through the halls of the building, shouting ‘Where are the prisoners?’” she continued. “They were searching for the secret detention cells where political prisoners were held and often tortured. “

The protesters also said they found “the files of well-known Egyptian activists who faced torture,” Motaparthy reported, and demanded that “a representative from the public prosecutor’s office come and oversee safe transport of the documents.”

The English-language Ahram Online newspaper added that the activists were “calling on whoever was detained or tortured there to join the protest and not leave before the military takes over.”

In Alexandria the night before, meanwhile, protesters also “stormed” the State Security headquarters, according to Human Rights Watch. One of those who entered the building said they found only “mountains of shredded paper.”

Ahram Online reported that the State Security compounds in Alexandria and 6th of October City, on the edge of Cairo, “are under the rule of the military, while Qena, Port Said, Zagazig, Domiat and Tanta state security buildings have seen fires erupt and protesters calling for action to prevent document burning.”

In 2005, the State Department said the SSI operated with a “culture of impunity.”

“Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of persons have been detained administratively in recent years under the Emergency Law on suspicion of terrorist or political activity,” it said, quoting Egyptian human rights sources. “Several thousand others have been convicted and were serving sentences on similar charges.”

By Jeff Stein  | March 6, 2011; 12:15 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy, Intelligence  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Couples, CIA-style
Next: Kissinger: Release Israeli spy Pollard

Comments

'In 2005, the State Department said the SSI operated with a “culture of impunity.”'

Yeah, that's why the US would send them prisoners to be tortured with complete impunity.

Posted by: Bud0 | March 6, 2011 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait to find out about the people Bushco sent to Cairo to be tortured.

Posted by: lichtme | March 6, 2011 5:11 PM | Report abuse

I guess this means more business for the Philippines, the alternative site to Egypt for dealing with making prisoners more cooperative. I bet it will turn out that there is little evidence of what really happened at this Cairo facility. From the news accounts, it looks like someone took care of any damaging records.

Posted by: edwardallen54 | March 6, 2011 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, won't happen. Obama will block any investigation. By "looking forward" Obama assures there is no punishment and the same war crimes can be repeated in the future as Obama creates the same sort of "culture of impunity" State bleats about.

On the one hand, by Obama's logic, I can rob a bank in the past, but since he wants to "look forward", I should go free. On the other hand, by refusing to investigate, Obama demonstrates something akin to cowardice. Neither hand seems clean.

Posted by: lmb02 | March 6, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, won't happen. Obama will block any investigation. By "looking forward" Obama assures there is no punishment and the same war crimes can be repeated in the future as Obama creates the same sort of "culture of impunity" State bleats about.

On the one hand, by Obama's logic, I can rob a bank in the past, but since he wants to "look forward", I should go free. On the other hand, by refusing to investigate, Obama demonstrates something akin to cowardice. Neither hand seems clean.

Posted by: lmb02 | March 6, 2011 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and here I thought they had moved on Quantico...

50,000 Arabs screaming 'metaphor' and qolonel qo0k still qant qatch a qlue...

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 6, 2011 7:42 PM | Report abuse

This is place where the famous case of torture to make war occurred.. Al Libbi was tortured until he said that Saddam was teaching Al Quaeda to use poison gas and ??? maybe anthrax.... It should be turned into the torture museum...!!

Posted by: palacehomez | March 7, 2011 12:54 AM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company