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Egypt: Political science researcher detained on arrival at Cairo Airport

Amgad Gabbas travelled to Cairo for the Eid holidays last week but has been detained since then
Amgad Gabbas is a political science researcher (supplied)

Egyptian political science researcher Amgad Gabbas was detained by police while at Cairo Airport upon his arrival from overseas for the Eid al-Fitr holiday, sources told Middle East Eye on Friday.

According to the London-based Egyptian Network for Human Rights, Gabbas is currently held in Qanater prison on the northern outskirts of Cairo. It remains unclear what charges he is facing.

The detention comes soon after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi issued pardons for some 3,000 prisoners, including dozens of political prisoners ahead of the Eid holidays.  

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It also comes amid revelations by MEE that the corpse of an Egyptian economic researcher had signs of torture after his body was found in a psychiatric hospital in Cairo last month. 

Arresting dissidents from airports has become common practice since Sisi, a former army general, became president in 2014.

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information, which has recently terminated its activity in the country over repressive civil society laws, has described Egyptian airports as "a trap for government critics and opponents".

Many journalists, lawyers, and government critics have been arrested at Egyptian airports, whether upon their arrival or on their way out of the country, including human rights activist Patrick Zaki, journalist Gamal al-Gamal, the researcher Ismail Al-Iskandrani, journalist Ahmed Gamal Ziada, and human rights lawyer Ibrahim Metwally.

Sisi rose to power after ousting Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, in a 2013 military coup.

Since then, his government has targeted members and supporters of Morsi's administration in a large-scale crackdown. More recently he has also targeted the secular opposition.

In June 2019, Morsi died while in custody in circumstances described by UN experts as "state-sanctioned arbitrary killing".

More than half of all prisoners in Egypt are political, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

The total number of prisoners in the country in March 2021 was 120,000, with an estimated 65,000 political prisoners. At least 26,000 of them were held in pre-trial detention.

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