Syrian dissident's wife 'abducted' in Egypt
Beirut - The 25-year-old pregnant wife of a Syrian dissident and journalist has been abducted in Egypt by Syrian intelligence agents, her husband said on Saturday.
Thaer al-Nashef, a Cairo-based Syrian dissident, said his wife, Mona al-Gharib, was kidnapped on Friday afternoon and he has had no word about her. She is six months pregnant.
The Syrian Embassy in Egypt issued a statement in which it strongly denied the claim, calling it "lies fabricated by Syrian dissidents in Egypt" seeking to harm Syrian-Egyptian relations.
Syria is facing mounting international pressure to end a bloody crackdown on an uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad that the UN says has killed more than 3 500 people. The Arab League was meeting Saturday to consider the possibility of sweeping economic sanctions.
An Egyptian police official confirmed that al-Nashef had filed a complaint about the kidnapping. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Al-Nashef said his wife left their home in Cairo's Mohandeseen neighborhood Friday afternoon to visit her parents nearly 3km away, but she was abducted before she got there.
At the time, he was giving a television interview about the situation in Syria in a studio in Cairo and was informed of the kidnapping through an anonymous text message he received on his mobile phone after he left the studio.
"We have your wife and we are going to sexually assault her so that you learn how not to insult your masters again," the text message said, according to al-Nashef. It was from an Egyptian phone number.
After informing the media about the news and filing a police report, he received further messages threatening to kill his wife and throw her body in the Nile if he doesn't stop talking, al-Nashef said, adding that he had been receiving other threats from Syrian agents for weeks.
"They sent threatening messages to me and my wife, accusing me of being a traitor. They threatened to kidnap my wife," he said. "The matter is now in the hands of Egyptian authorities."
Al-Nashef worked as a correspondent for Syria's state-agency SANA until 2006, when he became a regime opponent. He has lived in Egypt since 2007 and has been a vocal opponent of the regime, appearing often on Egyptian TV stations to discuss the uprising.