Egypt court bans April 6 over espionage claims

Ahram Online, Monday 28 Apr 2014

Court bans activities of youth group that helped spearhead the January 2011 uprising

6 April
Members of Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement shout anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a rally in front of Cairo's stock market, in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, April 6, 2013 (Photo: AP)

The Court for Urgent Matters has ordered the banning of all activities by the April 6 Youth Movement.

Lawyer Ashraf Saeed filed the lawsuit, which accused the group of espionage and defaming the Egyptian state.

He called for interim President Adly Mansour, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim to freeze the movement's activities and confiscate its headquarters.

Saeed told Al-Ahram Arabic news website that his lawsuit was based on recordings aired on television by Abdel-Rehim Ali.

"The recordings showed the movement had received foreign funding," he claimed.

The group's participation in raids on state security buildings in March 2011 increased my feelings against the group, Saeed added.

Following Mubarak's ouster, activists stormed state security buildings in which numerous accounts of torture had been reported.

The events were aired live on television and took place in the presence of soldiers who did not attempt to stop them.

Saeed added that he wanted the group and all of its offshoots disbanded.

The young group, which played a vital role in the January 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, has been the target of an ongoing smear campaign since its founding in 2008.

It was attacked during the Mubarak era and its founder Ahmed Maher was arrested. The group was then hailed after the 2011 revolution, only to be criticised during the period of rule by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). More recently, the movement has been denounced for opposing the post-Mohamed Morsi interim authorities.

In 2011, April 6 issued a complaint to the public prosecutor after the SCAF accused it of trying to "drive a wedge between the people and the army." 

TV anchors and channels affiliated with remnants of the Mubarak regime accused the group -- along with other icons of the January 2011 revolution – of "receiving foreign funds, conspiring against the state and belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood."

Abdel-Rehim Ali made a number of allegations against the group on his show 'Black Box'. In a series of episodes, Ali, who claimed he possessed over 5,000 recordings, aired the private phone calls of prominent activists, including April 6 co-founder Ahmed Maher, claiming they proved the activists had "conspired against state institutions."

Earlier this month, the group marked its sixth anniversary with two of its founding members, Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel, behind bars.

Maher and Adel, along with activist Ahmed Douma, were sentenced last December to three years in prison and fined LE50,000 each for violating a protest law, which criminalises unauthorised demonstrations, and assaulting police officers.

An appeal against the verdict was turned down on 7 April.

The implementation of a new protest law in November 2013 has fueled fears of an expanding crackdown on dissidents beyond a sustained campaign against Islamists since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013.

Last Saturday, April 6 and other political forces marched to the presidential palace to denounce the protest law and demand the release of detainees.

April 6 was established in 2008 to support a strike by textile workers in the industrial city of Al-Mahalla Al-Kubra. The strike was a milestone in the mobilisation of activists prior to the January 25 revolution.



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