Egyptian prosecution renews detention of opposition figure Abul-Fotouh

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Monday 26 Feb 2018

The former Islamist presidential candidate is under investigation for ties to terrorist activity and has been added to Egypt's terrorism watch-list

Prosecutors in Egypt have renewed the 15-day detention period for Abdel-Moniem Abul-Fotouh, the opposition figure and founder of the Strong Egypt Party, pending investigations into alleged ties to terrorist activity.

The decision on Monday comes one day after Egypt's top prosecutor Nabil Sadek ordered a freeze on the assets of Abul-Fotouh and 15 others involved in the investigation.

Abul-Fotouh was arrested on 14 February, a day after he returned from London where he had given interviews critical of the government.

Last week, a court placed the former Islamist presidential candidate and 15 others on the country's terrorist list for alleged ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

The asset freeze orders described Abul-Fotouh as a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The terrorist designation followed a request from State Security prosecutors after investigations showed Abul-Fotouh and the others "led and joined a group established in violation of the law with the aim of harming the interests of the Egyptian state," state news agency MENA said, in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The list included Maha Azzam of the Chatham House think tank in London and the head of the so-called "Egyptian Revolutionary Council", and Mahmoud Ezzat, the London-based acting Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide.

According to Egypt's "Terrorism Entity" law, individuals placed on the terrorism list are banned from travel, added on a watchlist, and subjected to an asset freeze. The designation decision can be appealed.

Egypt designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in December 2013.

On 15 February, Abul-Fotouh was held into custody for 15 days pending investigations into charges including "publishing and broadcasting false news harming national interests" and "leading an illegal group" that aims to topple the regime and disrupt public order.

He was detained days after an interview with the Qatari-based new outlet Al-Jazeera Mubasher, which Egypt has banned, in which he criticised Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for involving the military in politics and mishandling the economy.

The interior ministry accused him of holding “secret meetings” with leaders of the international Muslim Brotherhood organisation in London earlier this month to carry out a plot aimed at sparking off unrest and instability in the country.

Abul-Fotouh was among several Egyptian politicians who called last month for a boycott of the upcoming presidential elections, due in late March.

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