Egyptian lawyer Amr Nohan arrested while providing legal aid
A human rights lawyer has been arrested and detained pending investigations over alleged links to a terror group, after he visited a police station in northern Egypt to provide legal assistance to a female detainee, according to a local NGO.
Amr Nohan was in the Qarmuz police station in the port city of Alexandria to “carry out his humanitarian duty” of handing out a monthly payment to a client of one of his colleagues who was not able to go that day, human rights lawyer Mahienour El-Massry said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
However, he was arrested and his whereabouts were unknown for two days until he appeared in a prosecutor's office in Cairo on Thursday.
"On 13 June, the supreme state security prosecution decided to detain lawyer Amr Nohan for 15 days pending investigations, in the case (no.741 year 2019), on charges of joining a terrorist group. He was arrested on 10 June while doing his job at the Qarmuz police headquarters," the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, a local NGO, said in a statement.
A lawyer from the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) rights group contacted the attorney-general on Wednesday regarding Nohan’s case but has not yet received a response, the organisation said in a statement.
According to the ECRF, Nohan has been detained since the evening of 10 June. The group said he was providing legal support to Abeer El Safty, who it described as a political prisoner.
“Until [Tuesday] evening, lawyers were in touch with Nohan, but since then police officials deny his presence and claim that he left,” the statement said.
Middle East Eye has contacted the Egyptian government for comment.
Safty has been held in pre-trial detention since April after she argued with police officers who asked her to vote in the constitutional amendments referendum that month, according to her lawyer Ramadan Mohammed.
The referendum, which was mired in irregularities and accusations of vote-buying, allows general-turned-president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to remain in power until 2030.
Nohan’s friends were informed about his detention at the police station on Tuesday, but they have since lost contact with him, according to Massry.
Massry said although Safty was not Nohan’s client, he took it upon himself to deliver her aid as he saw legal work as “a job with a humanitarian side”.
'Is he being punished by detention and disappearance for trying to be both a good lawyer and a human being?'
- Mahienour El-Massry, human rights lawyer
“Any lawyer knows that Nohan was working day and night, and almost doesn’t go home, working on both political and criminal cases,” she said.
“Is he being punished by detention and disappearance for trying to be both a good lawyer and a human being?”
Nohan, then a 22-year-old law student, was jailed for three years in 2015 after posting a picture of Sisi with Mickey Mouse ears on social media.
Human rights groups have accused the Egyptian government of “forcibly disappearing” over 1700 people since Sisi led a military coup against his predecessor Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
The United Nations has documented 258 cases of disappearance in the 12 months prior to May 2018.
Many of those disappeared are reportedly subjected to torture as authorities attempt to extract confessions from them, true or false.