Eight people arrested in connection to the political action against Parliament’s approval of an agreement to transfer sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia were granted release on LE10,000 bail by the Qasr al-Nil prosecution.
The eight defendants, three of whom work as journalists for privately owned newspapers Al-Shorouk, Youm7 and Al-Watan, were arrested while making their way to the Journalists Syndicate on Wednesday night and now stand accused of protesting without a permit, illegal use of force and insulting the presidency.
The Journalists Syndicate was the site of a sit-in that began on Tuesday night after Parliament’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee agreed to refer the contentious agreement to the legislature’s general assembly. After Parliament voted to approve the agreement on Wednesday night, those gathered on the syndicate’s steps chanted against the move. However, the demonstration was disrupted when Central Security Forces initiated clashes and arrested several people, according to eyewitnesses.
Although many of those arrested from the syndicate were released later that night, lawyers later discovered that eight people had been arrested from the streets surrounding the syndicate.
Security forces also arrested late on Wednesday nights at least 15 political activists who had been involved in protests against the deal. The arrests were made at activists’ homes in Cairo, Sharqiya, Ismailia, Luxor, Fayoum, Tanta, Port Said and Suez, according to a statement by the Bread and Freedom Party. Cairo University professor Ahmed al-Ahwany and his son Hassan were arrested from their home on Thursday.
Two of those arrested have been charged with inciting protests and obstructing transport in Port Said, while six of those detained in Port Said and Tanta are being held in custody until Friday pending interrogations, according to the Front to Defend Egypt’s Protesters.
Egyptian Social Democratic Party leader Islam Marey has been accused of calling for illegal protests in Sharqiya on June 16, inciting violence against the government and using social media to undermine state institutions, lawyer Abdel Aziz Youssef told Mada Masr.
Three of those detained in Luxor are still in the custody of the National Security Agency, and Ahmed Santos, who was detained in Ismailia, will be held in detention until Friday pending investigations.
Security forces forcibly dispersed a protest at the Egyptian Social Democratic Party’s headquarters in downtown Cairo on Wednesday night and surrounded the headquarters, according to party leader Zyad al-Olaimy. Security forces prevented former party secretary general Ahmed Fawzy and lawyer Khaled Ali from joining protests against the island deal, barricading them briefly in a downtown building before forcing them into a taxi to remove them from the area, Ali told Mada Masr on Wednesday.
The arrests followed Parliament’s decision to uphold the deal with Saudi Arabia that has been subject to a protracted and ongoing legal dispute, which saw the agreement affirmed by the State Council in a January ruling as a concession of territory, an act that is prohibited per Article 151 of the Constitution. The Supreme Constitutional Court is set to rule on the Egyptian State Lawsuits Authority’s challenge to the State Council’s jurisdiction in the case.
On Thursday, the Supreme Constitutional Court’s Commissioners Authority submitted a report to the court suggesting that the islands fall under Egyptian sovereignty and that the State Council’s decision is still valid.