Arrest of Regeni family lawyer 'not linked to case'
The arrest of human rights advocate Ahmed Abdallah was not linked to Giulio Regeni's case, sources at the general prosecutors office in Cairo told local media on Wednesday.
Abdallah was working as a legal consultant for the family of the Italian student, who was tortured and murdered in Egypt earlier this year.
His arrest was based on "unauthorised demonstration" and had "nothing to do with the family of the Italian student", the sources told Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.
He faces multiple charges, including inciting violence to overthrow the government, joining a "terrorist" group, promoting "terrorism", and spreading false news and rumours that disturb public order, ECRF lawyer Doaa Mostafa told reporters.
According to ECRF, Abdullah was arrested early on Monday morning, when heavily armed police forcefully entered his home, searched the premises, confiscated his mobile phone and laptop, and arrested him. He was then transferred to the New Cairo police station.
"ECRF considers the arrest of Ahmed Abdallah and others to be a serious breach of Egypt's international obligations and Egyptian constitution specifically with regard to the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, expression and the right to fair trial," the organisation said in a statement.
In addition to demanding the "immediate and unconditional release" of Abdallah and others who had been arrested over the past few days "under trivial accusations", ECRF said it would submit a complaint to the United Nations' human rights bodies regarding the "arbitrary arrest and detention" of Abdallah.
|ECRF considers the arrest of Ahmed Abdallah and others to be a serious breach of Egypt's international obligations and Egyptian constitution specifically with regard to the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of association, expression and the right to fair trial.
Amnesty International confirmed Abdallah was arrested, along with several leading activists linked to Egypt's human rights and protest movements.
The international organisation also condemned the "heavy-handed" crackdown on activists and protesters demonstrating against Egypt's decision to give up two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia - a move a range of civil society groups have condemned as unconstitutional and lacking in transparency.
"The Egyptian authorities appear to have orchestrated a heavy-handed and ruthlessly efficient campaign to squash this protest before it even began," said Magdalena Mughrabi, Amnesty International's interim deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa.
"Mass arrests, road blocks and huge deployments of security forces made it impossible for peaceful demonstrations to take place."
Regeni's family 'distressed'
Regeni's parents have voiced concerns over Abdallah's detention, which was extended by 15 days on Wednesday.
They said in a statement that they were distressed by the recent wave of arrests in Egypt of activists, lawyers and journalists, some of whom were "directly engaging in the search for the truth on the abduction, torture and murder of Giulio".
The arrest of Abdullah, they said, was of particular concern given the role his organisation, ECRF, had in consulting with the Regeni family attorneys in Egypt.
|Regeni's parents said they were distressed by the recent wave of arrests in Egypt of activists, lawyers and journalists, some of whom were 'directly engaging in the search for the truth on the abduction, torture and murder of Giulio'.|
Regeni, a 28-year-old Italian PhD student who was researching Egyptian trade unions, went missing in Cairo on the evening of January 25, the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.
His mutilated body was found a week later at the side of a road on Cairo's outskirts, with analysts suggesting he died at the hands of security services during an interrogation, an allegation the Egyptian government has strongly denied.
On Monday, Italian MP Laura Boldrini reiterated the call for truth and justice to prevail.
"We will never tire of calling for the truth," she said. "A democracy does not compromise."
Meanwhile in Cairo, a journalist who interviewed the relatives of the criminal gang allegedly found to be in possession of Regeni's documents was among numerous people detained following Monday's protests.