Egypt arrests activist on charges of insulting president
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian police detained an activist known for his harsh criticism of the government on charges including insulting President Abdel-Fatah el-Sissi, a rights lawyer said Tuesday.
Fatima Harb, the wife of Shady el-Ghazaly Harb, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that prosecutors summoned her husband for an investigation into accusations of disseminating false news and insulting the president, among other charges.
The prosecutors, she said, set his bail at 50,000 Egyptian pounds, or about $2,810, late Monday. It has been paid but authorities have refused to let him return home, she said.
Rights lawyer Doaa Moustafa said Harb’s whereabouts are unknown. Shady el-Ghazaly Harb was one of the young leaders behind the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
The arrest is the latest in a heavy crackdown on opposition by el-Sissi who led the military’s 2013 ouster of Egypt’s first freely elected leader, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, whose one-year in office proved divisive.
El-Sissi took office in June 2014, nearly a year after Morsi’s ouster. He has since overseen the arrest of thousands of Islamists as well as scores of prominent secular activists behind the 2011 uprising. The government has defended the crackdown and erosion of freedoms since then, saying it is trying to restore stability, revive the economy and defeat an increasingly powerful Islamic insurgency based in the Sinai Peninsula.
Also on Tuesday, an Egyptian court handed out sentences — ranging from five to ten years — to five defendants in prison on terror-related charges that include killing a Coptic Christian in 2010. The Cairo Criminal Court said the defendants had set up a militant group that aimed to attack security personnel, tourists and the country’s Christian minority.
Egypt has been battling Islamic militants for years, but the insurgency gained strength after Morsi’s overthrow. The militants have focused their attacks on security forces and Egypt’s Christian minority.
In February, Egypt launched a massive security operation against militants in Sinai as well as parts of Egypt’s Nile Delta and the Western Desert, along the porous border with Libya.