Lawyer Mahienour al-Massry arrested and Karama Party leader appears before Supreme State Security Prosecution after forced disappearance

Police arrested activist and lawyer Mahienour al-Massry on Sunday afternoon outside the Supreme State Security Prosecution headquarters in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement neighborhood, according to a Facebook post by Massry’s friend Noha Kamal.

According to Kamal, who was speaking on the phone with Massry, the lawyer began screaming, “They’re arresting me. I am being taken away,” before the phone call abruptly ended. Eyewitnesses who spoke to Mada Masr described the sudden arrest, saying they saw three plainclothes police officers put the activist and lawyer into a microbus that had suddenly pulled alongside her. 

Massry was present at the prosecution office to follow up on the investigations of those who have been arrested over the last two days in the small-scale but rare protests that have swept across the country, calling on President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to resign. The protests, which broke out on Friday, were spurred by a series of online videos by former actor and contractor Mohamed Ali who accused Sisi and other military leaders of misusing state funds on vanity real estate projects at the same time as state policy has rationalized the necessity of an International Monetary Fund-backed austerity program. 

The news of Massry’s arrest came just one hour after Abdel Aziz el-Husseini, a leader of the Karama Party, was seen by a lawyer among a group of detainees being brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution, according to Mohamed Bassiouni, the party’s secretary-general.

Bassiouni told Mada Masr that Husseini disappeared last Thursday outside of his home. Since then, his phone had been off, and his family was unaware of his whereabouts or the circumstances of his arrest.

In the absence of an official count of the number of arrests over the past few days from state officials, human rights organizations have been documenting the number of detainees and attending investigation sessions at the Supreme State Security Prosecution headquarters in various cities, where most of those arrested have been taken.

In its most recently updated arrest count, the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF) released a statement announcing that it was able to confirm the arrest of 220 protesters from across 12 governorates.  Meanwhile, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights also published an updated arrest count on Sunday, stating it had secured confirmation of the arrest of 356 protesters in the last two days, a figure, the organization added, that is not yet final, as people are still being processed. 

Police released a number of minors from the Qasr al-Nil Police Station who were swept up in indiscriminate arrest campaigns in downtown Cairo, according to another statement by the ERCF. According to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, around 150 young people who were arrested near Tahrir Square on Friday were brought before the Supreme State Security Prosecution. 

To deal with the staggeringly high number of arrests, the Supreme State Security Prosecution has brought in additional prosecutors to initiate investigations with those detained.

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