CAIRO: A Cairo prosecution on Thursday ordered the detention of the Coptic activist Mina Thabet, who is managing a minorities program at a rights group, for four days over joining a terrorist group.
Thabet was arrested from home Thursday. The update of the arrest over joining a terrorist group was shared on social media, which mocked the charge, as many deduced the “group” to be the Muslim Brotherhood.
The news about his arrest attracted angry comments on social media, slamming a government crackdown against rights advocates, at the time when another rights lawyer, Malek Adly, had his pre-trial detention extended for 15 days over attempting to overthrow the regime.
Thabet, who works for the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF,) faces a list of at least 10 charges, including incitement to unlicensed protests, calling for regime overthrow, incitement to attack police stations, endangering the safety of the society and joining a terrorist group that works to disrupt the law and prevents state institutions from doing their work, Youm7 quoted ECRF’s lawyer Duaa Mostafa.
A Thursday statement by ECRF said that a group of plain-clothed men searched Thabet’s home in Cairo then took him in a private car which had a plate from the city of Alexandria.
The Facebook and Twitter accounts of Thabet have been closed.
Chairman of the ECRF board of trustees Ahmed Abdullah was also arrested from his home in the early hours of April 25 over charges of inciting protests against the sovereignty transfer of two Red Sea islands of Sanafir and Tiran to Saudi Arabia.
Abdullah was also a legal consultant for murdered Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni. His first hearing May 12 was attended by representatives from the embassies of the European Union, the U.S., the U.K. and Italy.
On May 14, a total of 152 people were sentenced to between two and five years in prison over the April 25 demonstrations, which decried an Egypt-Saudi deal to transfer the sovereignty of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
On Thursday, nine local rights organizations strongly condemned the ongoing detention of rights lawyer Adly, the director of the legal unit at the Egyptian Center for Economic and Cultural Rights, saying that he is “being punished for his tireless defense of Egyptians’ fundamental human rights and his active role in exposing human rights crimes in the media,” read the groups’ joint statement.
The statement also held the president, the Interior Minsitry and the prisons Authority all responsibility for his “physical safety,” as it quoted Adly’s wife who said that her husband is being subjected to “physical harm, torture, solitary confinement and arbitrary treatment by prison authorities without legal basis.”
Rage erupted following the prison sentences, as social media users slammed the rapidness of the trial, which only lasted for 19 days, while other corruption cases have taken many years before courts.
Dozens of protesters who were reportedly arrested during the islands’ demonstrations are accused of violating the 2013 Protest law, which drew criticism against the government as many pro-regime demonstrators gathered on that day without being dispersed by forces.