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Twitter criticised after suspending account of Egyptian journalist Wael Abbas

Abbas, famed for his reports on police brutality in Egypt, had previously had his Yahoo and YouTube accounts closed down
Wael Abbas has been harassed by the Egyptian authorities for his journalism (Screengrab)

Egyptian human rights activists and journalists are demanding answers after the closure of Wael Abbas's Twitter account, where he has for years documented police brutality and other abuses in the country. 

In a recent post on his Facebook page, Abbas on Sunday said that Twitter had sent him an email saying that his account would be "suspended for an allotted time" despite a previous email saying that his account would "not be restored".

Twitter has yet to comment on the move to close Abbas' account, which was shut down on Wednesday, as supporters of the Egyptian government praised the move to suspend his Twitter feed. 

Abbas is an award-winning journalist honoured internationally for his documentation of human rights abuses in Egypt.

Hundreds of users took to Twitter to share their outrage about Abbas's account being shut down.

Sherif Azer, an Egyptian human rights activist and academic, described Abbas's Twitter account as a "live archive to the events of the revolution," referring to the events of 2011.

In a tweet posted on Sunday, Azer wrote: "I can't accept @Twitter decision to close @Waelabbas account as it is a live archive of the events of the revolution and till today in one of few accounts still documenting human rights abuses in Egypt. Please open it."

Egyptian government-backed daily Al-Ahram on Thursday claimed on its website that Abbas's account was suspended after Twitter had allegedly detected his "intention to incite violence, which runs contrary to its guidelines".

Responding to the report, Abbas said: "The biggest official newspaper in Egypt is happy my Twitter is suspended :) this tells much, doesn't it? Need I say anything now?"

Abbas, who runs the Misr digital blog, came to prominence after posting several videos about police brutality in Egypt and reporting on an incident of mob harassment of women.

Since his reports, which helped lead to the conviction of Egyptian police for torture, Abbas has faced harassment from the government and had his YouTube and Yahoo accounts shut down.

In 2016, Abbas was detained for a second time in Cairo airport after flying into Egypt from South Korea. In a previous stop at Cairo airport, Abbas said that his passport was confiscated.

He told CNN in 2007 he was in a "state of shock" after YouTube suspended his account, meaning the loss of hundreds of videos which documented police brutality, voter irregularity in Egypt, demonstrations and strikes.

"We thought that YouTube was our ally," Abbas said. "It helped show the truth in countries like Burma. ... With what they did now, it doesn't seem like that anymore," he said.

In the past, Yahoo has also suspended two of his email accounts, Abbas has said, after they accused him of spamming.  

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