Last edited: January 03, 2005

Gay Web Chat Used as Evidence

Amnesty International, March 12, 2003
[Probably posted earlier]

On 16 January 2003 Wissam Tawfiq Abyad went to meet a contact he had made on an Internet website for gays. The person he met, in the Heliopolis district of Cairo, is believed to be a security officer or police informant. Wissam Tawfiq Abyad was detained and charged with “habitual debauchery”. Electronic conversations which they had exchanged over the Internet in private were used as evidence against him.

On 17 February 2003 a court of appeals in Cairo upheld the sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment of Wissam Tawfiq Abyad. AI considers him to be a prisoner of conscience detained solely for his perceived or actual sexual orientation.

During the examination of Egypt’s report to the UN Human Rights Committee in October 2002, the Egyptian delegation stated that in Egypt “homosexuality was not a criminal offence in itself”. However, ongoing trials and imprisonment of people solely for their perceived or actual sexual orientation demonstrate that charges of “habitual debauchery” continue to be used to criminalize consensual homosexual relations in private.

Over the past year, there have been several cases of alleged gays who have been detained and tried after having agreed to meet people contacted through the Internet who turned out to be security officers or police informants. Zaki Sayid Zaki ‘Abd al-Malak was detained in such circumstances on 25 January 2002 in Cairo. On 7 February he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “habitual debauchery”. This sentence was upheld on appeal. He was reportedly ill-treated in detention.

Please write calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Wissam Tawfiq Abyad and Zaki Sayid Zaki ‘Abd al-Malak and others imprisoned solely on the grounds of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Send appeals to: His Excellency, President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak, ‘Abedine Palace, Cairo, Egypt. Fax: + 202 390 1998. E-mail:

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