The UK-based right watchdog said in a statement on Friday that Egyptian authorities had arrested labor rights lawyer Haytham Mohamdeen and former political activist Mostafa Maher, a move that “has raised fears that the Egyptian authorities might be embarking on a fresh crackdown targeting peaceful dissent or individuals with history of activism.”
Incumbent President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has mounted a crackdown on all forms of dissent since he came to power in June 2014, almost a year after he ousted Egypt’s first democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi through a military coup.
International rights groups have time and again condemned Cairo for its clampdown on critics of Sisi, a former military general-turned politician, who with authorities justifies the move targeting activists and critics as being directed at saboteurs trying to undermine the state.
“These latest arrests have reignited a climate of fear amongst independent activists and human rights organizations about a renewed assault by the Egyptian authorities on the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Amnesty’s Magdalena Mughrabi said in the statement.
Egypt turned into ‘open-air prison’ due to harsh crackdownAmnesty International accuses Egypt of mounting a crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.
According to Amnesty, Mohamdeen was released from prison back in October on probation, after being behind bars for five months on charges of inciting peaceful protest rallies. On Monday, however, he was summoned by the police and arrested “after being wrongfully accused of violating his probation terms.”
The statement added that on Tuesday, plainclothes police officers raided Maher’s home and arrested him.
On Thursday, prosecutors ordered the pair to be remanded in custody for 15 days, accusing them of “aiding a terrorist group in achieving its goals”, the London-based rights organization said, strongly urging the Egyptian authorities to release them “immediately and unconditionally.”
It also said that the pair’s detention is “arbitrary” and the charges against them are “vague and has no credible basis.”