Call for Appeals to Egypt over Gay Entrapment
April 10, 2003
By Jon ben Asher, European Bureau Chief
London—Amnesty International has
issued an urgent global appeal on behalf of a 26-year-old man who has been
imprisoned in Egypt after arranging to meet a man through a popular gay
Wassim Tawfiq Abyad was convicted of "habitual
debauchery" and sentenced to 15 months imprisonment after replying to a
personals ad on the UK based website and setting up a meeting the man who had
placed the ad. It is believed the
man was a police informant. Email and webchat conversations exchanged between
the two men on were used as evidence against Wissam in court.
Amnesty International said Thursday it is very concerned
that the Egyptian authorities are pursuing a policy of internet entrapment to
persecute gay men.
Nora Cranston, Amnesty International campaigner for
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality, said: "It's shocking
that a man has been locked up in Egypt for exactly the same kind of private
communication taken for granted by 1,000s of men in the UK."
Cranston is calling for a massive letter writing campaign
protesting the use of entrapment to the Egyptian government.
"The Egyptian government must receive a clear
message from people all over the world that persecution of people for their
sexual orientation is unacceptable, and that internet entrapment is a clear
violation of fundamental human rights," Cranston said.
There have been several cases of men being arrested and
charged after arranging to meet people they first contacted on the internet.
Although Egypt has repeatedly declared to the UN that
"homosexuality is not a criminal offence in itself," Egyptian
authorities are engaged in a policy
of arresting and imprisoning men on the basis of their actual or perceived
More than 50 men were prosecuted for "habitual
debauchery" and imprisoned for up to five years after being arrested at
the 'Queen Boat' night-club in May 2001.
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