Dostour Party member referred to trial, Bread and Freedom Party member arrested for insulting president

The Port Said prosecution referred Dostour Party member Ahmed Hefny to court on Tuesday, four days after he was arrested and held pending investigations for a number of charges, including insulting the president, misuse of social media and belonging to an outlawed organization, according to lawyer and party member Tarek Hussein.

In a related incident, national security forces arrested Bread and Freedom Party member Mohamed Walid on Tuesday on the same charge of insulting the president through Facebook, according to Hussein, who said that “there’s a trend of targeting young party members through charges related to social media use.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Bread and Freedom Party noted the recent increase in the targeting of its members, claiming that several from different governorates were summoned for an unofficial session with national security officers in which they were indirectly and directly threatened.

The statement added that party member Gamal Abdel Hakim was arrested from his home last Friday, with the prosecution ordering his detention for 15 days pending investigation, for charges which the party says are false.

In a Monday statement the Dostour Party said: “there have been many incidents of the arrest of our Dostour Party colleagues lately, on allegations of belonging to an illegitimate body whose name is unknown to us, although they belong to an official and legitimate party.”

Members of an initiative proposing a presidential team to run for the 2018 elections, launched by former presidential scientific adviser Essam Heggy, posted a video to its Facebook page on Monday highlighting the smear campaign against its members, including Dostour Party member Ahmed Hefny who was referred to court in Port Said today.

In the video, Heggy said that the initiative’s members have been targeted by a smear campaign since it revealed its proposed platform for the 2018 elections.

Dostour Party member Nael Hassan, who was arrested in April, and three other members arrested earlier in May are due to have their ongoing detention reviewed by the prosecutor on Wednesday. They are being investigated on charges of insulting the president of the republic, belonging to an outlawed group, involvement with a group aiming to incite public opinion, obstructing state institutions and attempting to overthrow the regime. These charges are punishable with up to 10 years in prison according to the anti-terrorism law of 2015.

Last April, the Alexandria Criminal Court found rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan guilty of insulting the president, misuse of social media and inciting violence. He was sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison, a further five under house arrest and a social media ban for the same period. He has not yet been detained.

Head of Parliament’s Defense and National Security Committee Kamel Amer proposed an amendment to the Penal Code earlier in April, increasing the penalty for insulting the president to a minimum of one day and a maximum of three years in jail, and a fine of between LE50,000 and LE200,000. Parliament has indefinitely postponed the discussion of the proposal.

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