UN condemns Egypt crackdown on activists

GENEVA (AFP) – The United Nations (UN) yesterday condemned Egypt over the recent arrests of prominent activists and demanded that Cairo probe allegations that they were tortured by the security services while in custody.

Several activists who played key roles in the 2011 revolution have been arrested in recent weeks, including blogger and journalist Esraa Abdel Fattah and Alaa Abdel Fattah, an iconic figure in Egypt.

Alaa Adbel Fattah and his lawyer, Mohamed el-Baqer – who is also being held – have both been accused of belonging to and providing funding for a terrorist group, the UN Human Rights Office said.

“People have a right to protest peacefully, and a right to express their opinions, including on social media,” rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.

“They should never be arrested, detained – let alone charged with serious offences such as terrorism – simply for exercising those rights,” she added.

Esraa Abdel Fattah has been accused by Egyptian authorities of collaborating with a terrorist organisation and “spreading false news”, according to the UN rights office.