Activists investigated on claims of espionage

Aaron T. Rose
3 Min Read

Well-known activists and founding members of the 6 April Youth movement Esraa Abdel Fatah and Asmaa Mahfouz are being investigated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution on charges of espionage according to state-run Al Ahram.

Khaled El-Masry, a lawyer at The Centre for the Defence of Freedoms, confirmed that a complaint has been issued against Abdel Fatah and Mahfouz.

The investigation was initiated by top prosecutor Hesham Barakat after a complaint was filed by Abdel Aziz-Fahmy, General Manager of Youth and Sports in Gharbiya governorate reported Al-Ahram.

Al-Ahram reported  Fahmy’s claim that Abdel Fatah and Mahfouz were the recipients of foreign money “which entered Egypt for political and human rights activists” totalling EGP1.6 bn. “Based on what has been circulated in newspapers and media, all Egyptians became aware of the role these agents played in harms that afflicted the country,” the claim stated.

Ahmed Rakeeb, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, denied claims that Abdel Fatah and Mahfouz were under travel bans or that there were warrants for their arrests.

Aya Abu Zeid, spokeswoman for 6 April, said all allegations against Abdel Fatah and Mahfouz are baseless.

“Last year Abdel Aziz-Fahmy also introduced complaints against political activist Alaa Abdel Fatah, and [Fahmy’s] claims were proven to be lies,” noted Abu Zeid.  “The allegations are only based on tarnishing the image of political activists who always stand against any injustice.”

El-Masry described Mahfouz as being an “anti-coup protester,” and said that she is currently out of the country.

The complaint against Abdel Fatah and Mahfouz comes on the heels of investigations and arrests of several other political actors in Egypt.  Former interim vice president Mohamed ElBaradei is being investigated for “betraying public trust” after resigning and leaving for Vienna earlier this month.

Two Canadian filmmakers were detained this month with allegations that they were members of the Muslim Brotherhood.  And five employees of the Islamic website Islam Today were arrested for referring to Morsi’s ouster as a coup.

Abdel Fatah and Mahfouz helped co-found the 6 April in 2008 when they set up a Facebook page to support a workers’ strike at the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company in the Delta city El-Mahalla El-Kubra.

Both Abdel Fatah have been arrested for their activism in the past.  Abdel Fatah was arrested in 2008 for her role in the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company strike.  Mahfouz was arrested in August 2011 for defaming the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.  The charges were later dropped.

In May of this year, 6 April leader Ahmed Maher was arrested at the Cairo airport upon returning from the United States for his role in protests outside the interior minister’s home.

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Aaron T. Rose is an American journalist in Cairo. Follow him on Twitter: @Aaron_T_Rose