Egyptian writer and Sisi critic Amin El-Mahdi died a few days after he was released from pretrial detention, which raised questions among Egyptian activists on the causes of his death.
Amin El-Mahdi was first imprisoned on 9 September and released three weeks later, on the 30th.Mahdi’s arrest came two weeks before the establishment of the new opposition movement Qadireen (We Can), of which he was a founding member.
Another founding member , Mohamed Saad Khairallah, said Mahdi’s death is dubious, especially as prior to his arrest in September, he was not suffering from any diseases and was in good health.
El-Mahdi was detained last month after calling Abdel Fattah al-Sisi a ‘murderer’ and a ‘thief’ in a Facebook post.
The Egyptian author died on Sunday, soon after his release from a brief pre-trial detention, according to sources close to his family.
Mahdi, 68, was a publisher, writer and critic of Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
He was arrested on 9 September after a Facebook post in which he described Sisi as “a murderer, traitor, coward, and thief”. He was released three weeks later on 30 September.
Sisi, a former army general, came to power after toppling his democratically elected civilian predecessor Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
Mahdi was opposed to both Sisi and the Muslim Brotherhood – from which Morsi hailed.
Prior to his arrest, Mahdi had proposed an initiative to peacefully topple the “central military feudal republic”.
He called for ending military rule by “restructuring the army into a modern, professional, small army whose primary function is to train, maintain, and discuss defense plans”.
An opposition movement set up in exile, which claims to be inspired by Mahdi’s writings, has accused the government of killing him with a poisonous substance while in custody.
The movement, called Qadreen (We Can), was founded by four Sisi critics who were previously affiliated with his government but later turned against him and are based in the United States and Europe.
“The information we’ve received that he was poisoned by the current Egyptian military regime, which confirms our previous declaration and Amin El-Mahdi’s concerns he had informed us himself during his imprisonment of the vigorous attempts to assassinate him,” the movement said in a press statement on Sunday.
“Qadreen in turn is accusing the Egyptian ruling regime of poisoning Amin El-Mahdi and we are requesting the attorney general to hold an investigation into his death.”
Mohamed Saad Khiralla, a member of Qadreen, said that Mahdy was “in good health” at the time of his arrest.
Ahmed Attar, a human rights advocate and London-based researcher, reportedly said that Mahdi was released after showing symptoms of an unknown illness.
“He was transferred to hospital on 11 October, where his entire organs showed unusual and inexplicable signs of malfunction,” he said.
According to one of his lawyers, Mahdi was facing 49 charges related to his publishing work, dating back to nearly 20 years ago.
His supporters argued that the charges were politically motivated.
The Egyptian government has yet to comment on Mahdi’s death.
Sisi, in power since 2014, has been accused of silencing dissent by jailing thousands of political prisoners opposed to his rule.
Mahdi was one of relatively few voices that openly criticized Sisi from inside the country despite the crackdown.