Skip to main content

Egypt arrests socialist activist on terror charges

Amnesty International warns there is a 'real possibility' Haitham Mohamedeen is being mistreated in detention
The arrest of Haitham Mohamedeen is the latest in a wave targeting Egyptian activists in what rights groups have claimed is a silencing of opposition voices (Gigi Ibrahim/CC)

A prominent Egyptian activist and labour rights lawyer was arrested on Friday for charges including inciting terrorism and belonging to an outlawed group, his lawyers and security officials have said.

Haitham Mohamedeen, a leftist lawyer, was taken from his home on Friday, security sources said, the latest in a number of arrests of activists over recent weeks.

At least 20 people have been detained by security forces over protests against a rise in metro fares, and are being investigated on charges including disturbing the peace and obstructing public facilities.

Mokhtar Mounir and Mohamed Hanafi, two lawyers representing Mohamedeen, told Reuters news agency he was under investigation for "participating in the activities of a banned group" and "using the internet to incite terrorist acts," charges he denies.

The prosecutor did not identify the banned group, Hanafi said. An Egyptian security official told Associated Press news agency that Mohamedeen was a member of the Revolutionary Socialists movement.

A judicial source confirmed Mohamadeen's detention but gave no further comment.

On Friday, Amnesty International said it was deeply concerned over Mohamadeen’s arrest and called on the Egyptian authorities to release him.

"Given the ongoing clampdown on dissent that has continued unabated since the presidential election, we are deeply concerned by Haytham Mohamdeen’s arrest," Najia Bounaim, Amnesty's North Africa Campaigns Director said

"The Egyptian authorities are known for using arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance to punish human rights lawyers and members of the opposition. As such there is a real possibility he is being ill-treated in detention by the authorities right now."

Wave of arrests 

Mohamedeen had been detained at least twice in the past, once in 2013 on accusations of belonging to a secret organisation and spreading lies about the military, and again in 2016 for calling for protests against the transfer of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

His detention follows those of other prominent activists.

Activist Shady Ghazaly Harb handed himself in to police on Monday after a prosecutor ordered that he be detained for 15 days pending an investigation into accusations he was a member of a terrorist organization.

Harb was a leading opposition figure during the 2011 "Arab Spring" uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

Last week, authorities detained Amal Fathy, also for 15 days, on charges of insulting the state after she posted a video on social media criticizing the government for failing to protect women against sexual harassment.

Campaigners say Egypt's human and civil rights record has deteriorated sharply under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Amnesty International described the arrest of Fathy as "a new low in Egypt's crackdown on freedom of expression".

Sisi's supporters say his tough security policy is needed to ensure stability as Egypt recovers from years of political chaos and tackles economic challenges and an insurgency in its Sinai peninsula.

Sisi this week pardoned more than 330 people, many of them young people jailed for demonstrating in recent years.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.