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EGYPT

CIA terror deportee released from Cairo jail

Ahmed Agiza, one of the two Egyptians whose 2001 deportation from Sweden to Egypt caused a political scandal and who has been jailed since then, has now been released from a Cairo prison, according to media reports.

“I was released last Tuesday. I have been free a week now. I am feeling fine,” Agiza said to the Dagens Nyheter daily.

Agiza and compatriot Mohammed Alzery were brutally forced out of Sweden by the CIA in 2001 and flown to Egypt where they were interrogated under torture.

Karlstad-resident Ahmed Agiza has spent almost ten years in a cell in the Tora prison in Cairo, convicted by a military court of having been a member of a terror-linked organisation.

The decision to release Agiza was made by the social democratic government at the behest of the United States and has been welcomed by international human rights organizations.

Ahmed Agiza is currently staying with his mother in southern Cairo and the family are working on bringing him back to Sweden to be reunited with his wife and two children.

“We have been waiting since people with a political background and been tried in military courts started to be released. Then we became very concerned, why did it not happen, why wasn’t he released? Now it feels wonderful, the family and I are very happy,” Agiza’s wife Hana Attia said to the TT news agency.

Attia is now leading the family’s fight to get her husband a residence permit to come to Sweden.

“We hope that he can come to Sweden,” she said.

The deportation caused a political scandal in Sweden and the UN in 2010 criticised the country for breaching a ban on expelling suspects to countries where torture is practiced.

After Sweden’s intelligence agency Säpo ordered that both men be expelled, they were handed over to US agents, put on a plane leased by the Pentagon and flown to Egypt.

The pair claimed they were mistreated during their transfer to Cairo and then tortured during their detention in Egypt.

In Egypt, Agiza received a 25-year prison sentence for terrorism which was later reduced to 15 years. Zery was freed by an Egyptian military court.

Sweden agreed in July 2008 to pay more than €300,000 (then $470,000) to Zery after admitting that he was wrongly expelled.

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BURIAL

Swedish archeologist finds ancient mass grave in Egypt

A Swedish archeologist has discovered a 3,000-year-old mass grave at the Gebel el-Silsila site in southern Egypt.

Swedish archeologist finds ancient mass grave in Egypt
John Ward and the team with one of the sarcophogi. Photo: Gebel El Silsila Project
Maria Nilsson, Researcher in Classical Archeology at Lund University, told Sweden’s TT newswire that although her group had so far dug through less than half of the grave site, they had already found a large number of human remains. 
 
“It’s just skeleton after skeleton after skeleton,” she said. “We haven’t yet finished the first chamber, but we have so far taken up 50 adults and 25 children.” 
 
Nilsson and her British husband John Ward, who is the project’s Assistant Director, announced the discovery in a video after it was announced by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquity on Thursday. 
 

 
The group discovered the shaft last year, but only realised its full significance when they started digging this October. The shaft was found five metres under ground and leads to two chambers, each filled with water, sand and sludge. 
 
View to the south-east of chamber 1. Photo: Gebel el Silsila Project
 
The grave is thought to date from Egypt’s 18th dynasty, making it around 3,400 years old. As well as bodies, the archeologists have found burial goods, such as scarabs, amulets, and different types of pots, coming from three generations of pharoahs: Thutmosis II, III och Amenhotep II.
 
Writing in her blog, Nilsson, said that no similar mass grave had been found as part of the dig. 
 
“No other tomb documented at Gebel el-Silsila previously has contained such a high number of entombed individuals,” she wrote.
 
“One of the more important results of the discovery at Gebel el-Silsila is the amount of buried children and women, indicating that there was a complete society with entire families living and working in ancient Kheny.”
 
 
Men-Kheper-Re scarab. Photo: Anders Andersson
 
“What we can see from the burial goods and the actual architecture of the tomb is that they belonged to the upper middle-class,” Nilsson said. “For various reasons, we believe that they were involved in quarry work.” 
 
The archeologists have several theories for why so many bodies were collected in the same place. 
 
Perhaps it was a kind of temporary morgue where Egypt’s priests kept bodies while waiting for grave sites to become available. Perhaps there had been an epidemic.   
 
In February Maria Nilsson and John Ward are returning to Sweden, and will be returning to the burial place next autumn. 
 
View from the shaft into chamber.  Photo: Anders Andersson
 
 
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