Egyptian human rights lawyer, Ebrahim Metwally Hegazy, was secretly arrested as he left the country to fly to Geneva to address the UN Working Group on forced disappearances on Sunday. He was charged on Tuesday for “managing an illegal group, spreading false news … [and] cooperating with foreign organisations.” During his initial detention he was reportedly not allowed to see a lawyer or make a phone call.

Hegazy is currently representing the family of Italian student Giulio Regeni, who was killed in February 2016. Regeni was a PhD student at Cambridge university and was studying trade unions in Egypt. His body was found nine days after he went missing, showing significant signs of torture. His parents reported that ‘his body was so badly tortured and disfigured that the only feature they recognised was his nose.‘ It is strongly believed that the Egyptian security services were responsible for his disappearance and subsequent death, despite their assertions he was hit by a car and/or violently robbed.

Hegazy is the founder of Association of the Families of the Disappeared, a group that searches for those who have been forcibly disappeared in Egypt. His son went missing four years ago, after attending a rally in Cairo and he has not been heard from since.

Egypt has a troubled human rights record. Last week Human Rights Watch released a report that details ‘how security forces, particularly the offices of the interior ministry’s national security agency, use torture to force suspects to confess, divulge information, or to punish them.’ Click through here to read the report.

 

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