Only president can help me: Letter of Ukrainian prisoner, convicted in Egypt

Author : Edward Chikosh

Source : 112 Ukraine

I have spent here sixth year, sentenced to life imprisonment by the Egyptian state security court without any evidence and without the right to appeal - Edward Chikosh, native of Uzhhorod
23:19, 30 March 2017

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A native of Uzhhorod, Edward Chikosh has been in an Egyptian prison for six years. For a long time he was engaged in tourism business in this country, he headed the representative office in Africa and the Middle East of one of the largest tourist companies - Tez Tour. As the media write, during his work in Egypt, he closely cooperated with the Ukrainian embassy, organized ambassadorial receptions, and in 2009 during the special operation “Cast Lead,” he helped evacuate Ukrainians from the Gaza Strip.

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However, during the "Arab Spring" Chikosh was arrested by representatives of the Egyptian law and order and accused of preparing the riots in the country.

In 2011, while passing the Israeli-Egyptian border in the city of Taba, Israeli citizen Moad Zakhalka was detained. In his luggage a wooden structure in the form of a cross was found. The cross was hollow and provided a place for storage. At the checkpoint it turned out that inside the cross there is a weapon - AK-47 and 59 rounds to it. Zakhalka said that the cross is intended for the official representative of the travel agency, which was represented by Edward Chikosh. What is inside the cross, Zakhalka himself supposedly did not know. "Gift" for Chikosh was given to him by the driver of the Israeli bus Ali Atrash. On the same day, a call was made to Edward Chikosh. On the phone, he was asked if he was expecting a gift. Chikosh, according to his close friend and business associate Sergei Burtin, was really waiting for a gift in the form of a wooden cross, so he answered “yes.” A few days later, Chikosh was arrested as a representative of a travel agency for which weapons were unauthorizedly transported.

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This was already after the revolution and regime change. The main focus of the police was that the weapons found by the smuggler are very similar to those used by the Egyptian army. Chikosh was accused of alleged common decision to arrange chaos and unrest in Egypt on behalf of the Egyptian army.

According to the court, he ordered weapons from one of the Israelis, but the customs officers detained the courier. According to the version of the Ukrainian, the weapon belonged to the passenger of the bus of his travel agency. Edward Chikosh does not know why the passenger has transported it.

As a result, in the spring of 2012, Chikosh was convicted under wartime laws and sentenced to 25 years in prison without the right to appeal. According to the Egyptian laws, the calculus follows the lunar calendar, where the year equals 9 months. Consequently, the Ukrainian had to spend 19 years in prison.

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In 2014, after another change of power, the Egyptian Constitutional Court recognized all judicial decisions after the 2011 revolution, where an article on mitigating circumstances in cases involving weapons was not applied. Under this decree, similar articles, very controversial, managed to extradite their citizens to a number of countries - Canada, the United States, India, Australia, and Qatar. "Even South Sudan returned 120 (!) people," writes a journalist Roman Bochkala, who filmed a story about Chikosh in Egypt and deals with this topic. "Ukrainian citizen was imprisoned for a maximum term of 25 years - this is a lifetime. This is very unlikely to live for a quarter of a century in these conditions," Bochkala writes.

In his opinion, Ukrainian diplomats do not try to make progress in this matter. For example, only in February this year the Ministry of Justice applied to the State Migration Service to confirm the citizenship of Chikosh. The department notes that after this procedure is completed, it is possible "to appeal to the Egyptian side through diplomatic channels with a request to provide the documents necessary to consider the transfer of the convicted person for further serving the sentence in Ukraine." This is a sixth year of imprisonment.

Related: Ukrainian convicted in Russia could serve sentence in Ukraine

Meanwhile, Edward Chikosh is still behind the bars. And Edward's daughter Nicole is sure that only personal interference of the president of Ukraine can help her father return home. Last March, Chikosh applied to the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry: "Mr. Minister, I beg you to address my request to the President of Ukraine, to forward my letter to the President of Egypt or to raise my question in a telephone conversation." I am sure that the President of Ukraine would not remain indifferent to the fate of a citizen of Ukraine."

Yesterday, a letter from Chikosh came to the editorial office of, in which he tells his story and asks him to cover it in the media in the hope that this would help him release. We publish it without notes.

* * *

My name is Edward Chikosh and I am writing to you from the notorious prison Tora Liman, Cairo, Egypt. I have spent here sixth year, sentenced to life imprisonment by the Egyptian state security court without any evidence and without the right to appeal.

From the first day of my unlawful and unreasonable detention and after reading the materials, Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was confident that the case was fabricated, but nothing could be done until November 2014, when President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi issued Decree No. 140 "On deportation of foreign prisoners." Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Klimkin, was one of the first who sent a petition for my deportation, and although my "turn" came only in May 2016, after almost all the foreigners were deported, I was still glad.

To my misfortune, in the summer of 2016, one of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) was detained in Odesa; Egypt demanded his extradition, since the MB is its biggest enemy. By the way, the MB has almost been 1.5 years in power, and they knew that my case was fabricated. Mr. Kyrylenko (the Ukrainian ambassador in those days) repeatedly met almost with all the leaders of the MB, begging to hold a new court, deport or declare amnesty. But they released all "their" people, even real terrorists, but not me!

Perhaps, Ukraine has forgot about it: I'm sure the Egyptian authorities may not have provided convincing evidence, and the Justice Ministry could wait with the decision before my deportation (obviously, it's about refusing to deport a member of the MB from Ukraine to Egypt, - Ed.), and not to cross out the 2 years of the persistent work of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

For 3 years, Civilized Court of Austria (the case was in fact considered by the Vienna Superior Court of Justice, - Ed.) has been considering the case of Firtash's extradition, and nothing terrible happened. Not to mention the fact that political Islam is a real fascism, and even if ISIS or Iran is an extreme, it is enough to look at the Erdogan’s Muslim Brotherhood, and watch on YouTube to the leader of the Egyptian MB, Khairat Saad el-Shater, regarding democracy, Christians and Jews, to have an idea with whom we deal!

Perhaps I do not know something and I am mistaken, but the fact that after the refusal of the Justice Ministry I felt the revenge of Egypt immediately: my deportation was stopped, conditions of my detention automatically and health deteriorate. March 6, 2017, through the head of the consular department of Mr. Serhiy Kulkov Ukrainian Embassy said that it has exhausted all possibilities, and only the President of Ukraine can address the matter by addressing the President of Egypt...

... I was officially registered as a foreign investor in Egypt with two very successful hotels, which even after the 2011 revolution were 80% full (with an average of 10-15%)! Egypt is now attracting foreign investors, and I want the world to know about the Ukrainian investor who was convicted contrary to Article 97 of the Egyptian Constitution by an extraordinary court without evidence and the right to appeal ...


Tora Liman, Cairo

112 Agency

112 Agency

112 Agency

More information about the case of Edward Chikosh and his imprisonment in the Cairo prison can be read from Roman Bochkala, who visited Egypt and met with Chikosh.

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