Mona Seif, an Egyptian left-wing activist, is under investigation for a note she posted on Twitter following the discovery of Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni’s corpse.
Seif, 29, issued a warning on Twitter, hours after the authorities released news of Regeni’s death, that foreigners should not travel to Egypt because it would not be possible to ensure their safety during this period of harsh repression. In an interview with il manifesto, she cited the government’s track record of arbitrary arrests for her message.
“There are summary arrests constantly,” she said. “If somebody hears about two non-Arab people they warn the police saying they are spies. And these arrests may end up in detention and torture, as happened with Giulio.”
Seif, a member of the group No to Military Trials for Civilians, is facing charges of “inciting against the state” and “damage to the economy.” Since 2011, the number of foreigners coming to Egypt has dramatically decreased, discouraged by attacks on Mexican and Israeli tourists, a bomb exploding on an Airbus A321 leaving Sharm el-Sheikh and now the violent death of the young Italian scholar.
Seif belongs to a family of left-wing dissidents. Her brother, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, is serving a 15-year prison sentence for criticizing the military regime of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Her sister, Sanaa, and Seif herself have also spent time in prison for taking part in demonstrations during the 2014 presidential elections. Her aunt, Ahdaf Soueif, is a well-known Egyptian writer, and her father, Seif al-Islam, who died in 2014, was a pioneering human rights lawyer at the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.