Four members of the April 6 Youth movement were arrested Monday and charged with illegal protests and belonging to a banned organization. An additional two are wanted by prosecutors but by Monday evening had not been arrested.
The charges stem from a December 21 protest in Dokki Square, but lawyers representing the detainees say they were targeted as part of a broader effort to suppress dissent ahead of the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution.
Ayman Abdel Meguid, Mohamed Nabil and Mahmoud Hesham were arrested from their homes in the early hours of Monday morning, said Ahmed Othman of the Association for Free Thought and Expression, one of the lawyers involved in the case. The fourth detainee, Sherif al-Rouby was arrested on the street.
All four are being held at the Dokki Police Station and may be referred to Central Security Forces Camp informally known as Camp 10.5, Othman told Mada Masr.
They are scheduled for a hearing on January 10, but Othman said he expects their pretrial detention will be extended until January 25 has passed.
Two others, Islam Abdel Hamid Orabi and Mohammed Samih al-Bayoumi, are wanted by prosecution but have not been arrested.
According to a statement posted on the April 6 Youth Movement Facebook page, the six have been charged with calling for protests, participating in a protest without a permit, and possession of flares. Hesham and Orabi have also been charged with instigating protests.
Under the November 2013 protest law, participants in unsanctioned protests face two to five years in prison and a sentence of up to seven years for possession of explosive devices such as fireworks while protesting.
Othman told Mada Masr prosecutors had not yet produced proof that any of the men charged had attended the December 21 demonstration.
Nabil, Bayoumi, Rouby and Abdel Meguid also face charges of belonging to a banned organization, although the charges do not clarify which organization they allegedly belong to.
In April 2014, a Cairo court banned the activities of the April 6 Youth Movement, one of the groups instrumental in organizing the January 2011 protests that led to the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak. According to the court ruling, the group is responsible for “acts that tarnish Egypt’s image as well as espionage.”
The movement remained defiant following the arrests on Monday.
“We demand the immediate release of our abducted members and we hold the regime responsible for their safety,” the group declared in a statement. “The revolution continues and will not rest and or remain silent.”
*Photo by Virginie Nguyen