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Egypt extends detention of Muslim cleric Yousef al-Qaradawi's daughter

Ola al-Qaradawi and her husband, Hosam Khalaf, have been detained for four years without trial
Qaradawi was arrested with her husband Hosam Khalaf in 2017
Ola al-Qaradawi was arrested with her husband, Hosam Khalaf, in 2017 (MEE/Courtesy of Aayah Hosam)

Ola al-Qaradawi, the daughter of Qatar-based Muslim cleric Yousef al-Qaradawi, will remain in jail after an Egyptian court extended her detention, CNN's Arabic service has reported.

"The Third Circuit on Terrorism decided… to renew Ola al-Qaradawi's detention for a period of 45 days pending investigations into her accusation of joining and participating in financing a terrorist group founded in violation of the provisions of the law," the news site reported on Wednesday, citing Egyptian state television.

The decision was announced in the presence of a representative from the Qatari embassy, CNN added.

"The investigations conducted by the Public Prosecution Office, based on the national security investigation report, revealed that the accused carried out a hostile scheme prepared by the leaders of the terrorist Brotherhood from abroad to finance counter-movements in the country and carry out acts of violence and riots against state institutions at the same time," the Arabic-language report said, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation outlawed by Egypt.

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Qaradawi was arrested in 2017 with her husband, Hosam Khalaf, during a crackdown on dissidents by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, not long after Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain and joined Saudi Arabia in a diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar.

Khalaf and Qaradawi were accused of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood but were never presented with evidence against them or given a chance to stand trial.

The couple's supporters insist the accusations are politicised and linked to the diplomatic impasse between Cairo and Doha - not to any actual criminal offence.

Khalaf is believed to be have been held in solitary confinement since the couple's arrest four years ago.

In July 2019, a judge ordered Qaradawi be released on probation as she had already spent two years in pretrial detention without charge - the maximum period under Egyptian law for the nature of such custody.

However, she was re-arrested on 4 July for her alleged membership and support for a "terrorist" group and was accused of "using her relationships in prison" - even though she had reportedly been held in solitary confinement - Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported.

Last year, Qaradawi announced she was launching a hunger strike in protest at new charges that had been levelled against her.

According to the Twitter account of the campaign for their release, they have both been denied visitors and legal representation throughout their detention.

"Egypt has imprisoned the couple without trial since June 2017 for no apparent reason other than their relation to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi," read an April statement posted on the Twitter account.

Ola's father, an Egyptian scholar who has Qatari citizenship, was sentenced to death by an Egyptian court in absentia in 2015, along with other Egyptians said to be affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in a case relating to a 2011 mass jail break.

He has rejected the ruling and denies any involvement.

Qaradawi has had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, although he has repeatedly stated that he is no longer a member and twice turned down offers for an official role in the organisation.