Egypt arrests rights activist; Amnesty condemns move

AP News
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Posted: May 19, 2016 2:47 PM

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities arrested on Thursday a well-known advocate for the rights of Egypt's Coptic Christians from his home in Cairo, his lawyer said, the latest in the government's crackdown on rights activists and dissidents.

Mina Thabet was assaulted by police and taken in for interrogation by national security before he was slapped with a four-day detention order, his attorney, Doaa Mostafa, said. Thabet faces a long list of accusations, including inciting terrorist activities online and of inciting protests.

Thabet is the director of the Minority and Religious Groups Department of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, and is known for his work advocating the rights of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority.

Amnesty International condemned the arrest, saying Thabet is the latest in a slew of activists working for non-government organizations targeted by the Egyptian government for detention or intimidation.

"These are peaceful activists who must be allowed to carry out their work without fear of harassment or even imprisonment," the London-based watchdog said.

The head of the NGO, Ahmed Abdullah, was arrested last month. The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms has been advising the family of Giulio Regeni, an Italian student abducted and tortured to death in Egypt earlier this year.

There has been a wave of arrests recently in Egypt, especially following the demonstrations last month against Egyptian President Adel-Fattah El-Sissi's decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Last week, 152 protesters received two- to five-year sentences for breaking a law that effectively bans demonstrations and public gatherings unless authorized by the police.