State Security Prosecution renewed the detentions of two activists over the weekend by filing new charges against them.
On Sunday, lawyers of jailed activist Sanaa Seif learned that the State Security Prosecution had added two charges to her case: “Insulting Police Lieutenant Colonel Mohamed Nashar while performing his duties” and “insulting the same person through publishing and using terms that hurt his honor,” lawyer Khaled Ali said.
Ali added that the prosecution had summoned Seif from her prison cell in Qanater Prison to continue interrogations in her case, but Seif refused to give any statements pending the prosecution’s investigation of the complaint she filed as a victim of an assault on June 22 in front of the Tora prison complex, where her brother, activist Alaa Abd El Fattah, is held.
On June 21 Seif, alongside her sister and mother, spent the day and night in front of Tora prison where her brother is kept in remand detention on charges of inciting anti-government protests since his arrest in September 2019. The family, who hasn’t seen Abd El Fattah since March when the authorities suspended prison visits in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus, had been demanding to receive a letter from him. After receiving no response that day, they spent the night in front of the prison gate. In the early hours of the day, on June 22, a group of plainclothes women beat the three members of the family with sticks, dragging them to the ground and stealing some of their belongings in front of the prison guards, who didn’t intervene.
The following day, on June 23, when the family went to the public prosecutor’s headquarters to file a complaint about the incident, Sanaa was pulled into an unmarked microbus and later appeared in front of State Security Prosecution, where she faced charges of “inciting a terrorist act, publishing false news, misusing social media, and using a website to spread ideas that incite terrorist acts.” She has been in remand detention since.
On Saturday, the State Security Prosecution renewed the detention of Mohamed al-Qassas, vice president of the Strong Egypt Party, according to a post by his wife on Facebook.
According to Iman al-Badini, Qassas’s wife, the prosecution filed new charges accusing Qassas of joining a terrorist group, opening his third active case. The prosecution’s decision came 48 hours after a judge ordered his release.
Qassas’s case is not unique: Prosecutors often bring new cases against activists who have been cleared for release, prolonging their detention.
Qassas was arrested in February 2018 and detained on charges stemming from a 2017 case that levied fake news and illegal organization charges against a number of journalists and activists. He has been detained ever since. In 2019, he was charged with communicating with the Muslim Brotherhood from prison and sponsoring their activities. Khaled Ali, who is also Qassas’s lawyer, cast doubt on the charges: Qassas has been in solitary confinement since February 2018.