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Update: State Security Prosecution orders detention of former ambassador, 6 others for 15 days

Following their arrests on Thursday, the State Security Prosecution ordered on Friday the detention of former ambassador Masoum Marzouk and six others for 15 days pending further investigations into terrorism-related charges, according to lawyer Khaled Ali.

Marzouk, university professors Yehia al-Qazzaz and Abdel Fattah Saeed al-Banna, economist Raed Salama, as well as activists Nermeen Hussein, Sameh Seoudi and Amr Mohamed were charged with aiding a terrorist organization, receiving funding for terrorist purposes and taking part in a criminal agreement with the intention of committing terrorist crimes, as part of Case 1305/2018. In place of the last charge, activist Amr Mohamed was the only defendant charged with joining a terrorist organization.

Investigations into the case will resume on Sunday and Monday, Ali added.

Egyptian security forces arrested the seven activists and political opposition figures on Thursday, the third day of Eid al-Adha. Marzouk, a former diplomat who recently called for a referendum on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, was arrested from his home by a large number of security forces and led to an unknown location, Ali told Mada Masr on Thursday.

During the raid, police searched the residence and confiscated some of the family’s belongings, Ali added. Marzouk’s daughter, Maisara, accused security forces of taking a large sum of cash intended for her university tuition. The family plans on taking legal measures, she added on her Facebook page.

Earlier in August, Marzouk put forward a call for a referendum and laid down a roadmap for the transfer of power in the event that the population votes against the government. The suggested roadmap included the suspension of the Constitution and dissolution of Parliament, the transfer of power to a transitional council for a period of three years, throughout which all legislation issued following January 25, 2011 — marking the start of the 2011 revolution — would be revised and succeeded by presidential and parliamentary elections.

Marzouk also called for a mass rally in Tahrir Square on Friday, August 31, in the event that the Egyptian government does not respond to “the call.”

Financier, political economy analyst and activist Raed Salama, who co-founded the socialist Popular Current Party with Marzouk in 2012, was arrested on Thursday when he arrived at his apartment to find that police forces had forced their way in, his wife told Ali. Salama is also a founding member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

Helwan University geology professor Yehia al-Qazzaz, who was also arrested on Thursday, was detained while attending a funeral in the Red Sea city of Qusair, his son Mohamed told Abdel Gelil Mostafa, a member of the March 9 Movement, told Mada Masr.

Qazzaz is an outspoken critic of the government’s policies and was subject to a drove of legal complaints in June, when he was accused of inciting protests and taking part in “the Muslim Brotherhood’s plans.” In 2017, he was investigated by Helwan University for his political commentary following social media posts he had published, a move the March 9 Movement condemned at the time.

Political activist Sameh Seoudi, who had formerly been issued a sentence for protesting in 2017, was also arrested on Thursday. When police forces did not find him at his house, they detained his wife and two children, editor in chief of recently blocked website Al-Katib Khaled al-Balshy told Mada Masr on Thursday, saying that he had spoken to Seoudi directly.

Later, police forces arrested Seoudi and transferred him to Zawya al-Hamra Police Station, where his wife and children, who were eventually released, were being held.

Lawyer Mohamed Farahat told Mada Masr on Friday that activist Nermeen Hussein was arrested from her residence in Maadi on Thursday. Archeology professor Abdel Fattah Saeed al-Banna, who was a candidate for former Prime Minister Essam Sharaf’s Cabinet, was also arrested from his home in Mariouteya that day, Farahat added.

Activist Amr Mohamed was arrested from a Cairo shopping mall on Thursday, in the presence of his family, lawyer Nour Fahmy told Mada Masr on Friday.

A source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, stated that a wide arrest campaign is in the cards ahead of plans to amend Egypt’s Constitution to allow for an extension to Sisi’s current term, which is meant to be his last.

Sources who spoke to Mada Masr in June said that the amendment is being seriously touted within parliamentary circles, where there is an intention to either amend the duration of the four-year term or remove the current constitutional stipulation that imposes a maximum of one reelection for presidents, or both.

In a number of speeches, Sisi has warned against any attempts at public dissent. In late July, he expressed his ire at a Twitter hashtag calling for him to step down, saying it made him “sad.”

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