Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 646, November 27, 2011

"The seemingly eternal conflict in human societies
is between slavers and individuals who simply
want to be left alone to enjoy their lives."

Previous Previous Table of Contents Contents Next Next

Colonel Dr. Mohamed El-Ghanam: Arbitrarily Detained in Switzerland
by Ali Elghannam

Bookmark and Share

Special to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

11 November 2011

Since 12 March 2007, Dr. Mohamed El-Ghanam, a Professor of Law, author, internationally respected anti-terrorism expert, and recognized refugee in Switzerland, has been arbitrarily detained by Switzerland and denied his right to challenge his detention or access to his lawyers or his family.

Dr. El-Ghanam has never had a fair trial, as the Swiss authorities claim that he is not competent to stand trial. At the same time they have denied family, lawyers and independent bodies access to him. Two family members, five attorneys, the Swiss League of Human Rights, and the Swiss Red Cross have been denied the right to meet with him. Visits have usually been refused based on Swiss prison officials' claims that Dr. El-Ghanam does not wish to see anyone. Never once has Dr. El-Ghanam stated this in person and he had previously stayed in regular contact with his family members, especially his brother Ali.

Dr. El-Ghanam is a 54 year-old Egyptian national, who was a Colonel in the Cairo Police, a former Professor of Law in the Cairo Academy of Police, and the former Director of Legal Research in the Egyptian Ministry of Interior. He has given seminars in anti-terrorism for African and Arab officers and he has represented Egypt at international meetings in Europe and the United States of America. He holds a law degree from Cairo University and a Ph.D. in criminal law from the University of Rome.

Dr. El-Ghanam's expertise has also been acknowledged in his own country. His book Terrorism Legislation and Control in Democratic Countries (United Egyptian Universities Libraries, Cairo, and Dar Al Fikr, Beirut, 1991) had a significant influence on the drafting of Egypt's 1994 anti-terrorism law.

Dr. El-Ghanam was granted political asylum in Switzerland in 2001 when he was forced to flee Egypt after he refused to fabricate cases against opposition journalists and politicians and after he was threatened due to his criticism of human rights abuses by the government of Hosni Mubarak.

In 2002, Dr. El-Ghanam was approached by officials from Swiss intelligence agencies who pressured him to infiltrate the Muslim community in Geneva. When he refused, the Swiss intelligence agencies appear to have become increasingly aggressive in their efforts to recruit him.

In October 2004, Dr. El-Ghanam complained to the Geneva police about the harassment he was receiving due to his refusal to inform or spy on Islamic families in Switzerland. When he pursued his complaint with the Geneva police, an Inspector told him to "think about what you can do to serve Switzerland."

Nevertheless, undeterred, on 31 January 2005, Dr. El-Ghanam again filed a complaint with the Geneva police about the harassment. He subsequently filed complaints in February 2005 with the Council of the Canton of Geneva and the Commission of Management of this Council. He received no reply to any of these complaints.

On 15 February 2005, four months after his first complaint to the Geneva police, Dr. El-Ghanam, who had no prior history of any incidents with police, was arrested. It was alleged that he had threatened a man with bodily harm. Dr. El-Ghanam argued that the man had first assaulted him. Dr. El-Ghanam offered to call witnesses to sustain his version of the facts. He was never formally charged and witnesses were never heard. Moreover, the lawyer provided Dr. El-Ghanam by the Geneva Court advised him to withdraw his allegations against the Swiss intelligence agencies. Dr. El-Ghanam refused to withdraw his case.

Consequently, Dr. El-Ghanam was detained at Champ-Dollon Prison without charge from approximately 17 February 2005 until 21 June 2005. For the first 35 days of his detention he was denied any contact with his family, with whom he had been in frequent contact. When his brother, Ali filed a missing persons report with the Geneva Police on 21 March 2005 the Police falsely stated in writing that Dr. El-Ghanam was still living in his Geneva apartment and that he had not been arrested.

On 21 March 2005, Dr. El-Ghanam called his brother Ali, requesting his assistance. He called again in April 2005. On 19 June 2005, his sister-in-law, Ingrid, the wife of Ali, was able visit Dr. El-Ghanam in prison.

According to Dr. El-Ghanam's file on 10 October 2005, Mr. Urs von Daeniken of Swiss Federal Police, wrote to the then-Procureur général for Geneva, Ms Milena Guglielmetti, requesting that Dr. El-Ghanam be placed in confinement, due to his continued allegations of harassment by Swiss intelligence agencies.

On 25 October 2005, an officer of the Special Research and Investigations Branch of the Swiss Police wrote a letter to the Geneva Canton Councillor responsible for police and security, Ms Spoerri, stating that on 15 February 2005, Dr. El-Ghanam had "gravely injured a person, planting a knife in his abdomen." This statement contradicts the original report of Geneva Police that indicated that no physical contact or injures to any party resulted from the 15 February 2005 altercation.

On 10 November 2005, Dr. El-Ghanam was arbitrarily detained and forcibly admitted to psychiatric hospital Belle Idee in Geneva. Three weeks later he was transferred to Prison Champ-Dollon, again on allegations of assault and again with no formal charges being filed.

While he was in custody, on 5 December 2005, the Swiss Federal Council took a decision to expel Dr. El-Ghanam from Switzerland. This decision was taken without allowing Dr. El-Ghanam the right to make representations or to be represented and while he was a recognized refugee in Switzerland. On 28 April 2006, Dr. El-Ghanam was released from prison. On 5 July 2006, Swiss Federal Council issued an order prohibiting Dr. El-Ghanam from writing anything about his harassment on the internet.

On 6 November 2006, the Swiss government by Decision Number N39216 revoked Dr. El-Ghanam's asylum status without allowing him to make representations and without a reasoned decision.

In 2007, the Prosecutor transferred Dr. El-Ghanam's complaint to the Chamber of Accusations for review. However, before any action was taken, Dr. El-Ghanam was once again arrested on 12 March 2007. He was not charged or tried. Instead the Prosecutor claimed Dr. El-Ghanam was incompetent to stand trial and had him immediately transferred to Champ-Dollon prison. According to prison records he has been forcibly medicated while at this prison.

The claims of incompetence made by the Prosecutor were based on the opinion of Prof. T.W.Harding, who had never examined Dr. El-Ghanam in person and who relied only on documents. Psychiatrist Dr. N. Gervasoni, on 12 May 2005 had informed the Swiss court that it was not possible to provide an assessment of Dr. El-Ghanam without actually examining him in person.

Although Dr. El-Ghanam is still held based on the claim that he is incompetent to stand trial and in need of psychiatric care, the Champ-Dollon prison lacks adequate care facilities for psychiatric patients.

In response to his brother's communication to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced Disappearances, (WGED), Comm. No. 10002267, the Swiss authorities have admitted that they are holding Dr. El-Ghanam. Although no one has seen Dr. El-Ghanam in order to positively identify him since 11 March 2007, the UN Working Group on Disappearances initially closed the case based on the Swiss government's admission. At its most recent session held from 8 to 11 November 2011, the WGED expressed renewed concern about the matter and is currently trying to visit Dr. El-Ghanam, but has not been able to do so to date.

On 18 June 2009, Dr. El-Ghanam filed a pro se application for habeas corpus, which remains pending. At the only hearing since this application was filed and more than two years after it was filed, Geneva Judge Leonardo Malfanti, chaired a three-judge hearing on 18 October 2011, but the Court refused to deal with the habeas corpus application. The hearing, according to Judge Malfanti, was solely for the purpose of reviewing the psychiatric determination. The hearing was adjourned when the psychiatrists who had written initial psychiatric reports refused to appear before the Court or to submit evidence. A request by Dr. El-Ghanam's lawyer to have him brought before the Court or to allow his lawyer or his family members to meet with him was denied. On Monday, 7 November 2011, the Geneva Procureur général, Mr. Daniel Zappelli, who had been handling the case resigned. No further action has been taken.

For further information please contact Mr. Pierre Bayenet, the lawyer for Dr. El-Ghanam, at tel: +41-22-310-8938.

Was that worth reading?
Then why not:


Big Head Press