Kuwait arrests Egyptians for planning to set up group supporting El Baradei

April 10, 2010

Kuwait has arrested seven Egyptian expatriates for planning to set up an association to support Mohammad El Baradei, the former head of the UN nuclear watchdog, and potential contender in the 2011 presidential elections in Egypt.

Kuwaiti media on Saturday reported that security officials have prevented around 30 Egyptians from holding a meeting on Friday evening to launch a Kuwaiti branch of the newly formed National Association for Change, the formation seeking to build a consensus for constitutional amendments and change in the Egyptian political establishment.

Under the current constitution, El Baradei has to join a political party to run for president, an option that the 61-year-old former nuclear watchdog chief vehemently rejects. As an independent candidate, El Baradei must have the endorsement of at least 250 elected officials including members from the upper and lower houses of parliament and municipal councils.

“The police were aware of electronic messages sent by four Egyptians calling for a meeting at the beach front Sultan Restaurant in Salmiya,” Kuwaiti security sources said. “The police went to the restaurant and told around 30 Egyptians that the meeting could not proceed on the grounds that it was political activism and expatriates could not set up political associations.  Eventually, seven from the group were transferred for investigation,” the unnamed sources told Al Rai daily.

The wife of one of the arrested said that the police came to her flat with her husband and asked for clothes. “They assured me that it was just a matter of routine investigations,” she said, according to the paper. “They were very polite and behaved nicely. I know that my husband is innocent. He has been in Kuwait for seven years and has never been involved in any political activity. He just follows news on the Internet,” she said.

In Egypt, Hamdi Qandil, the spokesman for the National Association for Change, said that Kuwaiti security arrested 30 Egyptians planning to launch a local association to support El Baradei.

“They wanted to colelct signatures from Egyptians who supported El Baradei and agreed on meeting on Friday at 5 pm. However, the meeting was busted by the security police who arrested 25 on the spot. Five others had been arrested before the meeting,” Qandil said.

A delegation from the society will approach the Kuwaiti ambassador in Cairo to lodge an official protest and press for their release, Qandil reportedly said.

Last month, the spokesman said that the National Association for Change collected 300 signatures from Egyptians living in Qatar as they set up the first branch in the Arabian Gulf.

“We are planning visits to other countries in the Arabian Gulf to brief the Egyptian communities there about the association and explain its objectives,” he told the media.


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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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