Egypt detains activist blogger amid new wave of arrests

CAIRO: An Egyptian activist and blogger known for documenting police abuse was detained on Wednesday, security officials said, the latest in a new wave of arrests following elections earlier this year.

Wael Abbas was taken from his home in a Cairo suburb on accusations that include disseminating false news and joining an outlawed group, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The Arabic Network for Human Rights said police raided Abbas’ home at dawn, seizing his computer and mobile phones. It says he was blindfolded before being taken to an unknown location.

Abbas has campaigned against torture in Egypt for well over a decade, before and after the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak. He has published graphic videos showing torture and police abuse on his blog, misrdigital.com, and has been detained on a number of occasions.

His YouTube account was shut down in 2007, resulting in the removal of hundreds of videos showing protests and abuses by security forces. In December, he wrote on Facebook that Twitter had suspended his account without providing an explanation.

Authorities have arrested a number of secular activists since President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was re-elected to a second four-year term in March.

Earlier this month, Egyptian police arrested two prominent activists, Shady el-Ghazaly Harb and Haytham Mohamedeen, on an array of charges including belonging to an outlawed group and insulting the president. Shady Abu Zaid, a young comedian, was arrested on accusations that include spreading false news.

The latest arrests come amid a wider crackdown on dissent since el-Sissi led the military overthrow of a freely elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. Thousands of people have been jailed, unauthorised protests have been banned and hundreds of websites, including many run by independent journalists and rights activists, have been blocked.

On Tuesday, a military court sentenced a freelance journalist who reported on the Sinai insurgency to 10 years in prison on terror-related charges. Ismail Alexandrani was convicted of spreading false news and joining an outlawed group. International rights groups condemned the sentence and urged his release.

Categories: Warzone

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