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Woman disappeared in Egypt for two weeks re-emerges in pre-trial detention

Marwa Arafa is a professional translator and has no history of political activism, her husband has said
Marwa Arafa, 27, had been held incommunicado for two weeks prior to surfacing at a state security prosecution on Monday (Twitter)

An Egyptian woman, who had been “forcibly disappeared” for two weeks, has appeared before prosecutors earlier this week, her husband has announced.

Security forces arrested Marwa Arafa on 20 April from her home in Cairo without presenting an arrest warrant. 

An acquaintance of Arafa told Human Rights Watch at the time that the security forces, some in plainclothes, confiscated her phone and a large sum of cash, then took her to an undisclosed location. 

On Monday, Arafa surfaced before state security prosecutors, who brought official charges against her, including “joining a terrorist group”, said Amr Magdy, HRW’s Egypt researcher. 

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“Same accusation for all dissidents. What happened to her and where was she abducted? No. These are not a concern for prosecutors,” he said in a tweet. 

Arafa’s husband, Tamer Mowafy, condemned her detention as unlawful.

“After 14 days of enforced disappearance, Marwa has moved to the second phase of the vicious cycle that has swallowed dozens of our friends and thousands of others. Pre-trial detention, with no legal justification, and automatic renewals where no one knows when they will end,” Mowafy said on Twitter.

Mowafy rejected the accusations against his wife, saying she was  a professional translator with no history of political activism.

Prosecutors ordered Arafa’s detention for 15 days, pending investigations into charges of “joining a terrorist group” and committing a “terror-funding” crime. She is now serving a renewable period of pre-trial detention. 

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has been accused of forcibly disappearing hundreds of people since he came to power in 2014. His government has repeatedly dismissed the accusations as untrue.