“No Australian official ever saw Mr Habib in Egypt,” the Australian government says. What do you think?
Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown, speaking in the Senate, last week asked the Government if it was aware of Egypt’s General Omar Suleiman’s reputation as a torturer and a murderer. He also asked whether the Australian Government or members of its intelligence service had met General Suleiman and whether there was involvement in the illegal detention of Australian Mr Mamdouh Habib in Egypt.
In the Senate, the next day, Senator Conroy replied:
“In his question, he asked : Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. It is known by the government that Mr Habib was detained in Egypt. Has any member of the government or its intelligence services met Mr Suleiman? Were they involved in the detention and torture of Mr Habib in Egypt?”
“I can now furnish further information: Mr Habib’s allegations are not new. In 2005 the Australian Government asked Egypt to investigate Mr Habib’s claims of mistreatment.”
“The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has advised that during 2001-2002 Department officials made several attempts at senior levels to confirm Mr Habib’s detention in Egypt and to obtain consular access.”
“Egypt never confirmed that Mr Habib was in custody and consular access was never granted. No Australian official ever saw Mr Habib in Egypt,” Senator Conroy said.
“Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials have met Mr Suleiman, in particular in his capacity as a lead negotiator on Middle East peace process issues.”
Today, The Age reveals that an Egyptian intelligence officer has supported Mr Habib's claims that Australian officials watched as he was tortured in Egypt.
Mr Habib was detained in Afghanistan in 2001 and he says he was repeatedly tortured in Egypt before being sent to the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay.
He was released in 2005 without charge and returned to Australia.