The Egyptian authorities should promptly release or bring charges against two brothers taken from their home by state security officers in a pre-dawn raid the morning of April 4, 2005.

In letters to Minister of Interior Habib al-`Adli and Public Prosecutor Maher `Abd al-Wahed, Human Rights Watch called on the government to inform the brothers’ family of their whereabouts without further delay, and to permit them access to legal counsel if they are undergoing interrogation.

State Security Investigations (SSI) officials took university students Abul Futuh Tahsin Abul Futuh, 21, and Tahsin Tahsin Abul Futuh, 23, into custody after raiding their home in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City at around 4 a.m. this morning. According to family members, four SSI officers searched the house and confiscated papers and a computer before taking the two brothers, saying it was a “standard security procedure” and that the two would be back “in two hours.” The authorities have not returned them or provided information as to their whereabouts.

“These kinds of arrests have become typical for the SSI, which routinely subjects persons to torture and ill-treatment during questioning,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East division. “Time after time, families are told that their father or son will be back in a few hours, and then hear nothing for weeks and sometimes months.”

Family members told Human Rights Watch that the two brothers have attended a Nasr City mosque whose imam was arrested several days ago, but that neither was involved in any political activities. They said that some nine other persons associated with the mosque have also been detained in the Nasr City area in recent days.

Human Rights Watch asked the Minister of Interior and the Public Prosecutor to release the two men promptly or to inform the family of their whereabouts and the reasons for their continued detention.

“If there are grounds for suspecting the Abul Futuh brothers of criminal activities, they should be able to see their lawyers now and get a prompt and impartial judicial hearing,” Whitson said.