Activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested in his home at around 10 pm on Thursday. For two hours his location was unknown, but lawyers are now reporting that he is being held in a Central Security Forces barracks on the Cairo-Alexandria desert road.
His wife Manal told Mada Masr that she was asleep when Abd El Fattah woke her, saying the police had arrived. Seconds later, 20 men — some of whom were masked and carrying heavy arms — broke the door down, entered the house and began confiscating the family’s computers and mobile phones. When Abd El Fattah asked to see the arrest warrant, they beat him and slapped Manal across the face, she said.
Abd El Fattah was then taken out of the house and put in a microbus. A neighbor saw an officer sitting on top of Abd El Fattah to restrain him, Manal continued.
The couple’s 2-year-old son slept through the raid.
Earlier in the day, Abd El Fattah and other activists were summoned to appear before the prosecutor general Saturday for questioning about their role in inciting protests in front of the Shura Council on Tuesday. Ahmed Maher, founder of the April 6 Youth Movement, was also summoned.
A warrant for Abd El Fattah's arrest had been issued Wednesday, after which he announced in a statement published on his Facebook page that he would turn himself in to the Qasr al-Nil office of the prosecutor general at noon on Saturday. He then went to Downtown and spent time with fellow activists to show his face publicly as a way of expressing that he is not in hiding and is willing to confront the charges against him.
Also on Thursday, 24 individuals arrested during Tuesday’s protests were remanded to prison for another 15 days pending investigations, reported the privately-owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm. They are accused of obstructing traffic and assaulting police officers.
The defense team for the activists refused to proceed with the case on Thursday, in an act of protest against what they say were acts of torture committed by the police in New Cairo police stations. They demanded that the forensic officials record the detainees’ injuries.
The defendants have denied all charges levied against them, and began an open-ended sit-in in prison.
Dozens of activists and family members of the detainees gathered in front of the Abdeen Criminal Court, chanting against the Ministry of Interior and drawing graffiti on the walls of the courthouse.
In a phone interview with the program “90 Minutes” on the privately owned Mehwar television channel, Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa said that the government is committed to the new Protest Law, and that the police forces had every right to arrest 26 female protesters on Tuesday because they insulted them.
The women were arrested during the No to Military Trials protest on Tuesday, and were reportedly beaten, forced into a police van, and finally dumped on the May 15 Road late Tuesday evening near Helwan.
Abd El Fattah was jailed under Hosni Mubarak's regime for 45 days and again by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in 2011, when he remained in jail for almost two months. He also faced charges under Mohamed Morsi's government in 2013, along with popular satirist Bassem Youssef, in what many perceived as politicized charges used as an intimidation tactic.