May 24, 2018 / 6:49 PM / 7 months ago

Egypt state security orders prominent blogger Wael Abbas detained for 15 days

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s state security prosecutor on Thursday ordered a prominent blogger and journalist Wael Abbas detained for 15 days for investigation on charges including involvement with an illegal organization and publishing false news, state news agency MENA said.

Abbas, an award-winning journalist and rights activist, was arrested at dawn on Wednesday when armed police raided his home without presenting an arrest warrant, blind-folded him and took him in his pyjamas to an unknown location.

“Wael Abbas is a secular pro-democracy, not a terrorist, 15 days imprisonment!! Egypt is a country with no justice,” said Gamal Eid, one of his lawyers, on his twitter account.

Abbas first became known in activist circles after posting videos showing police brutality. One such video, published in 2006, caused such uproar that it prompted an investigation resulting in a rare conviction of two policemen.

Abbas was awarded the International Center for Journalists’ Knight International Journalism Award in 2007.

In recent weeks Egypt has stepped up a crackdown on political critics, arresting a series of prominent activists, which has drawn international attention.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Thursday that the United States was concerned about certain activists who have been arrested even as other prisoners were recently released, the White House said in a statement.

“Pence expressed support for President Sisi’s release of more than 300 prisoners, including American citizen Ahmed Etiwy,” the White House said.

Pence also raised concerns about arrests of other non-violent activists in Egypt.

Rights groups accuse the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of a sweeping crackdown on dissent which they say is the worst ever for Egypt.

Since 2013 when Sisi ousted President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist, thousands of Islamist opponents, as well as scores of liberal activists and journalists have been imprisoned by the authorities.

Sisi denies that there are political prisoners in Egypt.

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