Egypt’s public prosecutor has referred 28 people to a criminal court on charges including forming an illegal group aiming to topple the government.
Nabil Sadek, the Egyptian public prosecutor, referred 28 accused to an urgent national security criminal court, but only nine of the suspects are currently in custody.
The 28 are accused of forming an illegal group called the Egyptian Council for Change, according to the prosecutor’s statement.
The group, according to Egyptian authorities, is suspected of spreading false news inside Egypt and abroad with the intent of harming the national and economic interests of the country and the aim of overthrowing the government of Sisi.No date has been set for the trial.
It is worth to mention that Egypt has intensified a long-running crackdown on dissent since Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi’s re-election in March. He was sworn in for his second four-year term last Saturday, though the election was widely seen as a farce. All other political contenders were either arrested, sidelined or withdrew.
Al-Sisi reached power through a military coup in 2013 against Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. Since then, Egypt’s authorities have carried out a wave of arrests, including of some people involved in the January 2011 popular uprising that brought down then-president Hosni Mubarak.
Al-Sisi’s government has long been criticized by international human rights groups for cracking down on secular and left-wing activists, as well as Islamists close to the banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Moreover, advocacy groups have condemned the recent arrests, calling on authorities to release the activists, with Human Rights Watch on 31 May denouncing a “state of oppression”. Also, the UN rights office warned of a “renewed campaign of arrests, interrogations, and detentions of activists, bloggers, and journalists in Egypt” in recent weeks.
Ravina Shamdasani spokeswoman told reporters in Geneva, this “appears to indicate a significant escalation in the crackdown against the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly in the country.”
She said a long line of prominent bloggers, journalists, lawyers, and activists were among those who had been detained in the weeks since Egypt’s General Prosecutor in February ordered prosecutors to monitor social media sites that “spread lies and fake news”.