Thanks to Yancey, Elena, and Günter for bringing this to my attention. Hopefully with this post, I can bring some more attention to this issue.

Basically these two security contractors were transporting weapons for their maritime security contract through Egypt, and authorities there arrested them. The problem here is that these contractors were in possession of what they thought was the proper licenses and paperwork to transport these weapons through Egypt, and the authorities there decided not to honor that paperwork.

At the same time this was going on, the Arab Spring had hit Egypt and all chaos had ensued there. So these guys were probably viewed as a folks intending to fuel whatever side of the conflict there–which is the farthest from the truth.

These men were working for CAV, an Italian security company, and they were on contract to protect a vessel. Those weapons were for guarding a client’s vessel and not for sale or distribution in Egypt.

So that is what I know, and by all means, please review the two articles below and if you wish to voice your opinion about the matter, you can write any of the pertinent folks below. Send your emails to:

Ehab Mohamed Mostafa Fawzy
e-mail: egyptembassyvienna@egyptembassyvienna.at

If you would like to contact CAV and let them know that they have a responsibility to support and do all they can for these men, here is a contact:

e-mail: segretaria@cav-formazione.it
e-mail: info@csenbologna.it

If you would like to contact LisaFuehringer and provide some help or just give some support, here is her contact:

e-mail: lisa.fuehringer@gmx.at

The German Embassy in Egypt:

Embassy of Germany in Cairo, Egypt
e-mail: info@kairo.diplo.de

The Austrian Embassy in Egypt:

e-mail: kairo-ob@bmeia.gv.at

The Egyptian Embassy in Germany:

e-mail: embassy@egyptian-embassy.de

As more information becomes available, I will add the edits. The last I heard, the mother of one of the contractors communicated this recently:

“Today’s hearing was canceled by the judge and adjourned indefinitely.”

So basically the Egyptian judicial system is barely working, if at all–considering all that has happened there. That, and there might be some new politics involved, like any westerners in their prisons do not deserve due process or any kind of justice….Who knows, and by all means, if any Egyptian authorities would like to answer as to why Egypt is stonewalling this case, contact me or post a comment. If anyone else has information, please feel free to speak as well. –Matt

 

Frank Burkert.

Hannes Führinger and his wife Lisa.

 

Gunrunning: Process in Cairo postponed again
32-year-old in custody
27/05/2012
Gunrunning: Mild judgment in Cairo for Austrians?
Cairo: Burgenland experienced real stick martyrdom
Arms smuggling: Austrian is in Egypt court
The trial of the 32 – year Burgenländer Hannes F., accused Egypt in weapons smuggling, has been postponed again on Sunday. The date for the next hearing was the 23rd June fixed. F. is since 2 Last November in Cairo in custody.
Reason for the postponement this time was the recently held presidential election. The judge informed the lawyers that the trial was postponed, said Nikolaus Lutterotti, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry. The courtroom had served in the presidential election as polling stations and were sealed.
Courtroom was closed to
When she came in the morning to the courthouse, the court room was locked, before police were standing, described Lisa F., the wife of the accused. Initially it had been said that the hearing would take place somewhere else because ballot boxes were kept in the hall. After one and half to two hours, then you have been advised of the process would be delayed.
“21 cases were scheduled for today,” said Lisa F. The other procedures had been postponed to October 23rd of that against her husband on the June: “If it comes in June, not a verdict, then it will go in October.” In the months of July, August and September will not be tried. Place a few days before the new date on 16 and 17 Egypt in June presidential run-off election.
Health of the lander’s Castle “very threatening”
She was worried because of the health of her husband “very threatening” is, according to Lisa F. The visit by a medical officer of the embassy had not been approved, described the wife. “Until now, the not yet been approved,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Lutterotti, “the Embassy is trying every day to make it work.”
The 32 – year-old castle in the country last year was arrested at Cairo airport with four guns and 200 rounds of ammunition in his luggage. He had traveled for an order to guard a ship transport to Egypt.
Story here.
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FREE FÜHRINGER FROM AN EGYPTIAN PRISON
By securitycontractorsrecovery
by Elena Fon, Esq. and Günter Singer
25 January 2012
Hannes Führinger from Austria and Frank Burkert from Germany were arrested on November 2nd 2011 at Cairo airport en route to a maritime deployment. They were working for the Italian security company  CAV ( Centro Addestramento Varano) which had been contracted by the Italian maritime shipping company PREMUDA SPA, to provide security for the ship “ Four Smile” from Suez to Galle in Sri Lanka.
The two contractors came from Munich to Cairo on Lufthansa flight #586 with 4 officially declared rifles and 200 rounds of ammunition, that CAV had requested Hannes to import from Germany – as it is not possible to do so from Italy.
The weapons and ammo were officially declared and Hannes believed he was in possession of a valid importation permit. Instead the men were arrested and charged with the criminal charge of “intent to destabilise Egyptian national security”. Further, State Security claims that piracy does not exist in East African and Indian waters which is laughable. They are now being held in very poor conditions in Tora prison. They are not allowed to receive parcels or letters though the representative from the Austrian Embassy does visit and is able to unofficially bring them letters and a few sweets.
The whole problem arose when Hannes Führinger took it upon himself to help CAV with the importation of weapons into Egypt; it is to be noted he did this with their knowledge and consent, though he made the arrangements himself.
Hannes found an Egyptian national named Nabil through the internet and Nabil sold the documentation to him. Hannes was naïve at best to trust a man he had never seen or heard of before. Nabil then sent him a copy of a “permit” in Arabic, with no translation so Hannes had no idea whether the email copy was what it purported to be.  Nabil assured him he would be at Cairo airport to meet Hannes with the original documents. Needless to say, Nabil never turned up, leaving Hannes with a pile of weapons and ammo he had no valid permit for. It is also believed that Nabil tipped off Egyptian State Security of the men’s flight details.
Frank Burkert was in no way involved in any of the proceedings. He was arrested purely through association with Hannes Führinger.
So what is being done to help Hannes and Frank obtain justice ?
It has been very difficult at first. The Press has adopted a very negative and mocking attitude towards the case and has reported them in the media in a very bad light.  So initially they were no help at all in rallying any support.
Then a highly regarded Austrian journalist became very helpful in raising public awareness to the true nature of the situation, and also the Austrian news blog SOS-Österreich, was very helpful in doing the same.
Amnesty International was also contacted and they have replied and taken immediate action to try to figure out how to possibly help.
But what about the respective governments? Surely they will intervene here?
The German government has a very negative and unhelpful attitude towards the situation. Basically they are just not interested, whether for political or economic motives or whatever. When appealed to for help the German govt’s response was “we have better things to do”. Burkert’s family has been warned not to rock the boat and to leave it up to diplomacy.  This is the usual response of governments who intend to sit on their hands and do nothing to help their citizens in trouble overseas and it is advice which it is better to be ignored. The families wait, nothing happens and their loved ones rot in prison. It is much better to mount a proactive campaign. In my experience with miscarriage of justice the victims who have been released relatively quickly are those whose families and friends adopt a strong stand.
The Austrian government became more and more helpful after a sluggish beginning, because of an early campaign to get them involved and a strong stand of Lisa Führinger, Hannes’ wife.
A note of caution here; it is very unwise to criticise or antagonise the Egyptian government, do no write to them or make negative comments. Focus on the home governments instead.
Hannes and Frank had a contract through CAV? Surely CAV owes them contractual obligations as well as a duty of care?
Until a few days ago CAV refused to get involved and would not even take any calls. So did the shipping company PREMUDA SPA. They had simply abandoned Hannes and Frank. Yet, for CAV as the contracting company, they should legally be joined on the indictment as “jointly and severally liable”. However, they are not in Egypt and the State Security is not going to waste time pursuing them as they already have 2 scapegoats to hand.
A few days ago CAV, again after about 300 received e-mails and phone calls from Führinger’s friends, colleagues and family, responded for the first time, saying they will assess the situation and see how they can best help. Let’s hope that they mean what they say, take immediate responsibility and not lose precious time.
CAV are in breach of contract, as it would appear there was a valid signed contract between all the parties, although as only page has turned up, it is impossible to guess at the terms and conditions.  It does appear that Hannes was at least acting with the knowledge and approval of CAV.
CAV had been previously warned against importing weapons through Egypt but they ignored this and went ahead anyway.
CAV also owes a duty of care to their employees and ought to meet their legal expenses – which is what most companies do.
How are they paying for their legal expenses?
Neither of the men has a legal representative at this time.  They initially hired the Egyptian law firm of Usama Al Sayeh Mohamed Soliman who first demanded Euro 30,000 just to “read the documents” relating to the case. Even then some of the documents he admitted were sealed and would be unavailable until the actual trial date, which makes it impossible to mount a defence if the evidence is unavailable.
Even then the Euro 30,000 was only an initial estimated payment for reading the files. The amount has now risen to Euro 125,000.
The Führinger and Burkert families had previously hired another Egyptian lawyer, Alaa Dakroury, who took the paid fees and simply disappeared. And now the families are broke.
So there is nothing positive then?
Amnesty International has taken on the case which is very positive. Our hopes are pinned on them.  But Frank and Hannes do need proper legal representation as a matter of the utmost urgency. At present they have nobody to help them. They need a German or Austrian Human Rights lawyer.
The case is very serious indeed as the Egyptian authorities are very angry at this situation and are looking at very harsh penalties. It is alleged there was a political element to the case and that Hannes had a business contact with a military official who would have “arranged” everything. But the military official is from the “previous regime” which is now an aggravating factor.
The court hearing has been set for 27 February 2012. So time is running out fast.
We appeal to anyone who knows of a suitable German or Austrian HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER to contact Hannes’ wife Lisa: lisa.fuehringer@gmx.at.
Story here.