Lawyer Khaled Ali detained overnight amid crackdown on political opposition figures

Prominent lawyer and founder of the Bread and Freedom Party Khaled Ali was questioned by the prosecution on Tuesday and held overnight at Dokki police station pending further investigations.

No formal charges have yet been brought against Ali, and his lawyers say there is no legal basis for his detention. He was questioned about his use of “an indecent hand gesture” after court proceedings over the ceding of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, his lawyers told Mada Masr.

A source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, said the prosecution refused to present Ali with the evidence against him, and that he responded by using his right to remain silent throughout the investigation. He has been refused access to his lawyers.

Ali’s detention comes amid a wave of over 30 arrests in recent weeks, targeting members of several of Egypt’s political groups and parties.

A court acquitted a member of the liberal Dostour Party on Tuesday, as the prosecution ordered the detention of two other members of the socialist Bread and Freedom Party besides Ali.

The acquitted Dostour Party member, Ahmed Hefny, was charged with insulting the president, spreading false news and misusing social media by a court in Port Said, according to party spokesperson Khaled Daoud.

The two Bread and Freedom Party members, Asaad Maamoun and Mohamed Abdel Nasser, were ordered to be detained in Aga, in the Nile Delta governorate of Daqahliya, for 15 days, charged with spreading “false news about the economy to incite public opinion” and joining an illegal group, according to a party statement.

In Upper Egypt’s Qena, the prosecution released political activist Mostafa al-Galis, after lawyers filed an appeal against his 15-day detention order following his arrest last week. He is still being investigated on accusations of joining a banned organization and disrupting public peace.

Lawyers have appealed the 15-day detention of Mostafa Abdallah, another activist who was arrested in Qena last week, with a court due to review the case on Wednesday, according to Al-Ahd Center for Legal Assistance.

Security forces commenced a series of house raids this month targeting members of political parties, including the Dostour Party and the Bread and Freedom Party, along with members of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Revolutionary Socialists and the April 6 Youth Movement.

Many have been accused of being members of illegal organizations, despite their legal membership of formal political parties.

The first wave of arrests at the beginning of May were carried out in Alexandria, when Nael Hassan, Islam al-Hadary, Shazly Hussein and Ahmed Ibrahim were accused of insulting the president online, and joining an illegal group to “stir public opinion, obstruct state institutions and bring down the regime.” Such charges could carry sentences of up to 10 years in jail under Egypt’s new anti-terrorism law.

Last Thursday, Egypt’s Interior Ministry said its “Communications Systems and Information Technology Department filed 40 cases of incitement to violence and other cases via the internet.”

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