Student Esraa al-Taweel, who has been missing since June 1, was reportedly seen on Tuesday at Qanater Prison, according to a Facebook post published by Zeinab Mohamed.
Taweel’s sister Duaa, who started a Facebook page and online campaign searching for her sister using the hashtag “Where’s Esraa al-Taweel,” said that she contacted Mohamed to inquire about the reported sighting.
According to Mohamed’s story, which Duaa corroborated, Taweel was wearing the same outfit as the day she disappeared when she was sighted at the prison.
“She seemed to be doing well, but when I tried to approach her, the policewomen surrounding her refused to let us talk,” Mohamed said, adding, “I signed to her that I would write and tell people about her whereabouts.”
Mohamed alleged that Taweel had not yet been questioned by the prosecution, nor had any official charges been filed against her.
The Interior Ministry has yet to officially announce the reason behind Taweel’s arrest, and according to her family, has also refused to officially let them know her location.
Taweel disappeared with her friends, Sohaib Mohamed and Amr Ali, on June 1. The three were purportedly last seen at a restaurant in the Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek on a day out, when they disappeared and their phones were turned off, leaving their families and friends unable to reach them.
On June 11, inmates serving time at Al-Aqrab maximum security prison facility on charges related to the “Marriott cell” case reported spotting Amr Mohamed at the prison on June 8. The inmates told people attending their latest court session that they had seen Mohamed at the prison. However, official papers have not yet confirmed his detention at Al-Aqrab Prison.
On June 15, activist Mona Seif said that Sohaib Mohamed was spotted at Tora Prison, and that his family had been notified of his location.
Several activists accused the Interior Ministry of kidnapping and detaining the three youths as a part of a recent campaign in which at least 163 people have been forcibly disappeared and illegally detained by security forces over the past two months, according to a document published by the Freedom for the Brave campaign on its official Facebook page.
Freedom for the Brave member Tarek Mohamed told Mada Masr that he believes the current crackdown is a “continuation of the regime’s policies against any movement associated with the January 25 revolution,” but also specifically a reaction against the April 6 Youth Movement’s call for a general strike on June 11.
Tarek clarified that many of those who have been illegally detained and held in undisclosed locations were later charged with belonging to the April 6 Youth Movement, which the courts ruled an illegal organization last year. They also faced accusations of coordinating with the banned Muslim Brotherhood group and calling for the June 11 strike.
The ministry has so far denied all reports of forced disappearances. One source from the ministry told the privately owned newspaper Al-Shorouk that “we are in a state of law and we cannot detain citizens in the streets unlawfully. Whoever is arrested faces accusations according to judicial orders.”