The short story:
Colin & I have been close friends for 13 years when we started our MBA program together. We then both lived in London and our children played together. Colin moved back to his home town of Boston before I returned to the US and unfortunately he got divorced from his wife, an Egyptian national, in 2008. He was granted full legal custody by the US courts of his two young boys (US citizens). His wife created forged passports in a fake name and kidnapped his two children by illegally flying back to Cairo on Egypt Air. He hasn’t seen them in more than a year and she is in hiding.
Mirvat el Nady now has an arrest warrant in the US and is wanted by Interpol (see here). Colin is being supported by his Senator John Kerry and has received help from Vice President Biden and Attorney General, Eric Holder. The problem is that Egypt doesn’t support the Hague Convention and doesn’t have an extradition policy with the United States so they don’t recognize any of the international legal rulings in Colin’s favor. Colin has now won visitation rights in an Egyptian court, but Mirvat didn’t show up at the legally required meeting day / time in Egypt.
What can you do to help Colin?
- Watch a short 3 minute video of Colin being interviewed by the Boston news station – this will make Colin’s situation come to life for you rather than just trusting my blog post. It is a heart-breaking interview to watch for anybody but more so if you have children. What would you do if your’s were kidnapped and taken abroad with no recourse?
- UPDATE: I’ve set up a donation page where you can contribute (even small amounts appreciated) to Colin’s legal defense fund. I figure if I can get 1,000 people to give just $25 Colin will have greatly needed resources. Click here for donation page:
- Visit this Facebook page with further details. Leave Colin a short note of support
- Please share the Facebook page from the link with your network to help create awareness and like the page to receive updates
- Sent out a Tweet with the text “I support the release of @colinmbower’s boys #noorramsay http://bit.ly/noorramsay“
- If you feel so inclined you could add “thank you @johnkerry for your support” (Colin lives in Boston so John Kerry is his senator. We hope the more public support Kerry sees the more active his support will be)
- Please Retweet this post by clicking on the green retweet button and share it on Facebook by clicking on the blue FB share button
- If you know any way to help (friends in government or any other ways you could recommend) please email me. My email address is my Twitter handle at Gmail.
The slightly longer story:
Colin was married to an Egyptian national (who went to USC and had previously lived in the US) and had two boys, now 8 and 6. We were close friends at the University of Chicago’s international MBA program. We then both lived in London where Colin was a director at AOL Europe in their hey day and was then CEO of a tech startup. When he left to set up his own company he worked out of my office.
I knew Colin and Mirvat (his former wife) both well. I will refrain from any commentary about her character. My wife & I went out with them as couples and I spent much time with Colin separately with our business school classmates when they were in town. I knew Colin’s eldest son Noor really well. He was born about 18 months before my first son so he was one of the first young babies and toddler I hung out with a lot. When my first son was born and was a toddler the four of us used to hang out together. Colin was a loving and affectionate father. Our kids played well together and naturally my son followed Noor’s lead as the “big guy.” A couple of years later Colin’s second son Ramsay was born.
Colin moved back to the US before I did. He moved to Boston (where he resides today) near where he was raised in Manchester-by-the-Sea. In 2008 Colin & Mirvat were divorced and Colin was awarded full legal custody of both children. Mirvat was granted restricted visitation rights and was specifically barred from driving a car with the children (she wasn’t legally allowed to drive at all) or to leave the state of Massachusetts without written consent.
Mirvat’s family is well connected in Egypt. When we lived in London we had attended parties at the residence of the Egyptian ambassador to England and went to several dinners with the children of prominent and internationally renowned Egyptian families that I won’t name here. Mirvat was able to obtain falsified Egyptian passports with the name “Power” rather than “Bower” and she was able to fly out of the country on EgyptAir, whom Colin holds accountable for its lax security policies even post 9/11.
I spoke to Colin nearly weekly through his entire divorce proceedings. His wife had access to large economic resources and I saw first hand how our justice system can be heavily biased toward parties with vastly superior financial resources. After Colin won the much drawn-out US proceedings Mirvat opened a further legal battle in England where they shared joint property. This further bogged down Colin from a time perspective as well as emotionally and financially.
Colin’s battle to win custody of his two children has now raged on for 3 years. He hasn’t seen or spoken to them in more than a year. To this day my phone conversations with him are still heart-breaking yet I’m struck by his resolve to win back his boys. I could see weaker men giving up in the futility that the international system imposes.
I am amazed and inspired by Colin’s commitment to his boys. He spends all of his working day working hard at his social media consulting firm because in his words, “I need to continue to be economically successful to finance the return of my boys and have a stable environment for them to return to. My job and my fight for my boys are all I have now.” He flies regularly to Cairo to try and increase his legal rights there and had spent months flying to London in their protracted property battle. To say that Colin spends all of his free time and his money on his efforts understates the case.
Colin, I know things have been difficult. But you’re an inspiration to fathers everywhere. I saw the love you gave Noor and Ramsay first hand. And all of my love, thoughts and support goes out to you in your time of need. Bring back #noorramsay