“They are arresting me.” On Tuesday night, at 4:20 a.m., Wael Abbas reported live the news of his imminent arrest.
Abbas is one of the most famous Egyptian bloggers, followed throughout the Arab world. He has won prestigious awards and collaborates with a number of international newspapers. For years he has been in the sights of Egyptian regimes. He personally witnessed the 2011 revolution, and for years has reported police brutality, the repression of protests, and state corruption under Mubarak and now under el-Sisi.
On Tuesday night, a large group of police broke into his home in the capital and blindfolded, handcuffed, and took him away to an unknown place, as the Arab Network for Human Rights Information reports. They confiscated his computer and phone.
In the past, his highly visited Twitter and YouTube profiles had already been suspended, and he has received constant and direct threats.
The intelligence services did not confirm the arrest, nor did they give details of the accusation. An anonymous source did so: spreading false information that he belonged to an illegal group.
For days he had not had the opportunity to contact a lawyer, and thus it was a forced disappearance. Thursday, however, his lawyer wrote on Twitter that he would be detained for 15 days.
The world is mobilizing: thousands of people on social media are asking for his release, with the Arabic hashtag “#WhereIsWaelAbbas.”
At the same time, the North Cairo Military Criminal Court sentenced to ten years in prison Ismail Alexandrani, another journalist reporting on Islamist groups in Sinai and detained since November 2015. The accusations: publication of military secrets, illegal financing from abroad and membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, political group banned after the coup by General el-Sisi and subjected to severe repression.
Yet, as his lawyer Tarek Abdel Aal explained Wednesday, the prosecution has not presented any evidence of the alleged crimes or indicated the nature of the “secrets” revealed. This brings to 35 the number of Egyptian journalists behind bars.
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