Three men were arrested on Saturday for breaking off and selling pieces of one of the Giza pyramids, after a video showing bidding on the artefacts went viral online.
The men were detained for four days by Haram Prosecution on charges of vandalising antiquities, trading in antiquities and committing fraud.
According to an interior ministry statement, the arrests were made following a complaint by the general director of the Giza Pyramids archaeological area.
The police added that the three men confessed to breaking off and selling pieces of the pyramids and gave details about the sale process. The handsize chunks of rock sold for around EGP 250 (about $32), the police said.
Privately owned Egyptian news site Dot Masr decided to investigate media reports that “pieces of the pyramid were being sold”, resulting in the video of the sale, the website said.
The editors of the website were able to “buy a piece of the pyramids for EGP 300” following an agreement with one of the men, who is now in police custody, to buy chunks of the pyramid in order to send to a friend abroad.
The video sparked outrage on social media, with many users calling on the antiquities and tourism ministries to “save the pyramids.”
Pictures and videos taken by a German tourist who climbed to the top of the Great Pyramid of Giza also went viral online earlier this month; Andrej Ciesielski was caught by police on his descent but released. Egyptian authorities have said he will face a lifetime ban from entering Egypt.