Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah detained for four days

News article, posted 11.30.2013, from Egypt, in:
Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah detained for four days (Photo: AP)

Egyptian prosecutors ordered the detention of prominent rights activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah for four days on Friday on charges of breaking a controversial new protest law, pending investigations.

Abdel-Fattah was arrested at his home on Thursday night. He is accused of involvement in a protest against military trials for civilians which took place in central Cairo on Tuesday. Protest organisers had not notified police of the details of the demonstration in advance, as is required by the new legislation.

The Kasr El-Nil prosecution office in Cairo questioned Abdel-Fattah on Friday and charged him with holding an unauthorised demonstration, Al-Ahram's Arabic website reported.

Abdel-Fattah told prosecutors that he had not called for the protest, according to Al-Ahram.

The activist has stated publicly that he was not involved in the planning of Tuesday's protest, but that he opposes the new legislation and the arrest of the demonstrators who were present.

Prosecutors have also charged him with thuggery and incitement of violence, based on allegations that a policeman was assaulted by protesters and had his radio stolen during the Tuesday demonstration. According to the same report, prosecutors stated that the protesters involved were from the April 6 Youth Movement.

Arrest warrants were issued for Abdel-Fattah and Ahmed Maher, the founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, on Wednesday, based on charges that they had called for protests the day before without taking the necessary steps required by the new law on demonstrations.

Several members of the No to Military Trials group, which was one of the groups behind Tuesday's protest, reported to prosecutors on Wednesday that they were the organisers of the demonstration. They were released without charge.

The new legislation, which came into force on Sunday, requires protest organisers to notify the police three days in advance of any public demonstration of more than ten people. Under the law, authorities are entitled to ban the protest if they think it constitutes a threat to public order. Those who violate the law may receive prison terms or fines.