El-Hamalawy says he was held at headquarters for four days, most of them spent in an underground 10-by-10 foot cell with 18 other detainees, some of whom had been held by the government for as long as ten years without being convicted of a crime. When he wasn't in the cell with the other detainees, he was being interrogated, says al Hamalawy. He claims he was beaten and forced to stand all night. "After my first day of interrogation," he said, "they took me into a cell with my hands tied behind my back." When he passed out, he claims, he was pulled back to his feet.
He also says he was threatened with electrocution and rape."They said, 'You think yourself a man? We're going to bring a gay soldier to rape you.'" Just before his release, he says, an interrogator extended the threat of rape to include his girlfriend, mother and sister.
In State Department cables released by WikiLeaks, U.S. officials express some optimism about developments in Egypt after 2005, noting that the government has stopped denying that torture exists, and that a group of police officers had been successfully prosecuted for brutalizing a bus driver. Amnesty International's Sahraoui said, however, that she is still not aware of a single SSI officer being held accountable.
Abdel Haleem Halim, meanwhile, says the regime continues to hit back at him, albeit indirectly. Now 66, he fled to the U.S. in 2002 and lives in a Washington, D.C. suburb. When he published an article critical of Mubarak in an Arabic publication this past summer, the regime arrested his son, who still lives in Cairo.
The Egyptian ambassador did not respond to requests for comment from ABC News. In the past representatives of the Egyptian government have said that torture is sporadic, not systemic, that claims about it are exaggerated, and that when it occurs it is investigated and prosecuted.