Sister of prominent Egyptian detainee arrested after protesting assault

Sister of prominent Egyptian detainee 'arrested' after protesting assault
2 min read
23 June, 2020
Sanaa Seif, the sister of imprisoned rights activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, was arrested after submitting a complaint about her family's treatment.
Seif was previosuly arrested in both 2014 and 2016 [Twitter]
The sister of prominent Egyptian rights activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has been detained, relatives said on Tuesday.

Sanaa Seif, also a rights activist, was arrested outside the Prosecutor General's office in Cairo by plainclothes security forces, her family said in a press statement.

Sanaa, her sister Mona and their mother, professor Laila Soueif, had travelled to the office to submit a criminal complaint after the women were beaten and robbed on Monday outside the prison where Abdel Fattah is being held.

Soueif and her daughters had gathered outside Cairo's notorious Tora prison demanding authorities allow them to receive a letter from Abdel Fattah, who they have not been in contact with for three months. 

The activist family was beaten by women "thugs" in full view of the police who did not intervene, a relative said earlier this week. The women also allegedly stole their bags, money and IDs.

"The only reason Sanaa came with us today is for prosecutors to see the bruises on her body, as evidence of the attack yesterday," Mona Seif said.

"Instead of receiving her as a victim of beating and assault carried out under the direction of the ministry of interior and state security, and documenting her wounds, the public prosecutor is complicit in handing her over to  to the agencies responsible for the violence against her," she added.

Sanaa appeared later at the State Security Prosecution office, her lawyer said. It is unclear what charges she faces. She has previously served time in prison over her activism in 2014 and 2016.

Her detention has caused outrage among Egyptian government critics.

"We talk about prison abolition but voices in Egypt have been ground down so much families are getting beaten up and kidnapped just demanding letters from their loved one inside a cramped cell/solitary during a f--king pandemic," one Twitter user wrote.

Human rights lawyer Ahmed Ezzat added: "Abducting Sanaa by the police at the public prosecutor's office has one meaning, that the prosecutor himself is complicit in her abduction and that he is OK with such practices.

"Sanaa is the victim, her attackers and abductors should be the subject of this interrogation, not her."

Her brother has been held in pre-trial detention in Cairo's Tora prison since September last year, when he was arrested alongside hundreds of protesters, activists, lawyers and journalists as part of a renewed crackdown on dissent.

The 38-year-old has not been convicted, but like many government critics has been charged with "belonging to an illegal organisation" and "spreading false news".

Abdel Fattah initially rose to prominence during Egypt's 2011 uprising against the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

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