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'Where is he?': Egyptian government ordered to reveal location of Mostafa al-Naggar

The prominent lawmaker, starred during the 2011 Arab Spring but has been missing for 16 months.
Mostafa al-Naggar, 38, is a dentist, human rights activist, and former politician (Facebook)

An Egyptian court has ordered the country's interior minister to reveal the whereabouts of Mostafa al-Naggar, a prominent blogger, activist and former lawmaker, who has been missing for 16 months.

Al-Naggar shot to fame during the Arab Spring after blogging against former President Hosni Mubarak, voicing his support for democracy and human rights.

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He went on to serve in Egypt's first democratically elected parliament, headed by the late former President Mohamed Morsi, who died in June after prolonged imprisonment in an Egyptian prison.

"We are expecting that they (authorities) will tell us where he is," Shymaa Afifi, his wife told the AFP news agency.

The binding decision from the state council court will take effect within the next month, compelling Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfik to reveal Naggar's location, Afifi said. It comes after months of speculation and official denials from Egyptian authorities about his imprisonment.

Naggar was last seen on 28 September 2018, after which he disappeared, Afifi told Middle East Eye in 2018. He faced charges of insulting the judiciary and was due to appear before court a month after he went absent.

In December 2018, friends told MEE that they feared he had been killed attempting to escape Egypt by crossing the country's southern border to Sudan.

Amr Magdy, Egypt researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW), told MEE at the time that that his organisation was concerned about Naggar's life due to Egypt's "habit of lying and cover-ups."

'Unfree and unfair'

Since Sisi's re-election in March in a vote condemned as "unfree and unfair", Human Rights Watch says that security forces have "escalated a campaign of intimidation, violence, and arrests against political opponents, civil society activists, and many others who have simply voiced mild criticism of the government."

It says that tens of thousands of people have been arbitrarily arrested since 2013, while hundreds have been sentenced to death in mass trials.

Amnesty International said in its latest report that Egypt's human rights crisis "continued unabated" and that arbitrary arrests and detentions had become routine, and that "torture and other ill-treatment" also remained routine.

Several prominent figures from across Egypt's political spectrum remain imprisoned.

On Sunday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed outrage "over the pointless and tragic death" of American citizen Moustafa Kassem after a year-long hunger strike, casting a spotlight on Egypt's rights record.

Writing for MEE on Tuesday, Maya Foa, Director for legal charity Reprieve urged British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take Sisi to task for Egypt's treatment of prisoners during meetings at the UK-Africa Investment Summit in London this week.

"Face to face with a leader who uses death sentences to silence political opposition, the prime minister must show the moral courage to oppose it in practice, too," she wrote.