Egypt’s crackdown on Morsi supporters called worse than Mubarak era

McClatchy reports: In the two months since Egyptian authorities started rounding up supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi, a repressive regime has emerged here that appears to be far worse than the one political activists thought they’d ended when they pushed Hosni Mubarak from office two and a half years ago.

Egyptians caught in the roundup have told McClatchy they were tortured while awaiting charges. Islamist leaders claim that the government is rounding up family members in the night as leverage against them. Lawyers tasked with representing arrested Morsi supporters often are arrested when they go to be with their clients during prison interrogations. Once again, civilians are facing their charges in military courts.

“I saw torture chambers that made me wish they would shoot my husband dead,” said one woman who was arrested the same day her husband also was seized. “I would rather see him, the father of three children, dead than tortured,” she recounted in a phone interview, her voice still shaking 10 days after her two-week detention.

The woman, who asked not to be identified for fear she’d be arrested again, said she was mistreated while in custody but hadn’t been tortured. Her account matches that of other prisoners, who say they’ve gone on hunger strikes to protest the crowded conditions and refusals to let them see their lawyers.

Not just Morsi supporters have been arrested. A growing number of journalists and human rights advocates also have been detained, leaving fewer eyes to document what’s happening.

Ahmed Helmi, a human rights lawyer who represents many of those arrested, estimated that as many as 10,000 people have been arrested since the military deposed Morsi on July 3. That’s far more than human right groups’ estimates of 3,000. Diplomatic officials told McClatchy the number could be 5,000. [Continue reading…]

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