Home World UNITED KINGDOM Egyptian activists arrested for contact with western diplomats, Human Rights Watch says

Egyptian activists arrested for contact with western diplomats, Human Rights Watch says

An Egyptian human rights defender married to a British documentary maker was arrested in Sinai on Wednesday, days after his colleague was also detained in what their organisation said was retaliation for a meeting held with western diplomats.

Karim Ennarah, who is the director of criminal justice at advocacy group Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, was detained in the resort town of Dahab, three days after the arrest of EIPR’s administrative director Mohamed Basheer on Sunday.

EIPR believes the arrest of its staff was in retaliation for a recent meeting it hosted with western diplomats to discuss improving human rights in Egypt.

Mr Ennarah’s wife Jessica Kelly, a filmmaker focused on the Middle East, said his arrest was “something we always feared but naively hoped we could escape”.

National security officers took Mr Ennarah to an undisclosed location after his arrest, EIPR said in a statement, but little further information about his status was available. 

His colleague Mr Basheer is being held on remand for 15 days for “joining a terrorist group and publishing false news”, EIPR said, calling the accusations groundless.

During Mr Basheer’s interrogation, EIPR said investigators focused on a meeting EIPR hosted at its Cairo offices on November 3 to discuss human rights in Egypt with a number of western diplomats.

EIPR director Gasser Abdel Razek told Egyptian outlet Mada Masr he was shocked that “a security force would feel threatened by a meeting with ambassadors.”  

The UK’s deputy ambassador to Egypt attended the meeting alongside the ambassadors of Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland, EIPR said.

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