Egypt cracks down on associates of 'tortured' businessman

Egypt cracks down on associates of businessman 'jailed for refusing to cede assets'
2 min read
01 October, 2021
Egyptian authorities have continued a crackdown on individuals linked to a Muslim Brotherhood member who rights groups say is in jail for refusing to cede his assets.

Egypt’s national security agency on Thursday claimed it had foiled an attempt by the Muslim Brotherhood to revive “terrorist activities”, in statement released by the Egyptian interior ministry.

The ministry accused Yehia Mahran Othman, a senior Brotherhood member, of playing a key role in the alleged conspiracy and being one of the main arms of detained businessman Safwan Thabet.

According to the interior ministry, security forces raided a flat owned by Othman in Giza province, southwest of the capital Cairo, where he was hiding $8,400,000 along with other foreign currencies in a hidden safe as well as a stash of ammunition.

It was not immediately clear whether Othman was arrested in the raid or had been detained beforehand.

Thabet tasked Othman with exploiting the former's company in transferring and concealing the group’s funds in a bid to circumvent the legal procedures taken to freeze its assets, the statement said.

Thabet, the Juhayna Industries major shareholder and CEO, had been detained in December last year over terrorism-related charges. His son, Seif, who took over the company, was also arrested two months later over similar accusations.

The two men were accused of allegedly being involved in financing a terrorist group - commonly a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

On Monday, Amnesty International slammed Egyptian authorities for holding the pair in conditions that amount to “torture” because of their refusal to cede their assets.

The Thabet family have denied any wrongdoing in statements posted on social media.

Such charges have been widely deployed in a crackdown that has swept up dissidents from across the political spectrum, and are now being used to target businesspeople, Amnesty said.

Authorities have yet to disclose evidence for the alleged affiliation, the watchdog added.

Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members are currently behind bars, with hundreds either executed or handed down prison sentences, while many others are in self-imposed exile outside the country following the military coup that overthrew the rule of late Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.