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Egypt prosecutor accuses 28 of forming group to topple government

Advocacy groups have condemned arrests, calling on authorities to release activists
Sisi voting in March, after which Egypt intensified crackdown on dissent (AFP/file photo)

Egypt's public prosecutor said on Sunday it has referred 28 people to criminal trial on charges of forming a group to topple the current government.

Egyptian public prosecutor Nabil Sadek referred the 28 accused to an urgent national security criminal court, but only nine of the suspects are currently in custody.

No date has been set for the trial, the Associated Press reported, adding that Egypt has intensified a long-running crackdown on dissent since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi's re-election in March.

The 28 are accused of forming an illegal group called the Egyptian Council for Change, according to the prosecutor’s statement.

The group, according to Egyptian authorities, is suspected of spreading false news inside Egypt and abroad with the intent of harming the national and economic interests of the country and the aim of overthrowing the government of Sisi.

The arrests are part of a wider crackdown on dissent since the 2013 military removal of an elected Islamist president following mass protests against his one-year divisive rule, the AP said.

In the past few weeks, Egypt's authorities have carried out a wave of arrests, including of some people involved in the January 2011 popular uprising that brought down then president Hosni Mubarak.

Advocacy groups have condemned the arrests, calling on authorities to release the activists, with Human Rights Watch on 31 May denouncing a "state of oppression".

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