The number of arrests since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi and the takeover of the interim government has surged, with at least 3,059 in Cairo alone, according to the Front to Defend Egypt Protesters (FDEP).
The front provided detailed lists of arrests which followed certain incidents of violence, noting that 646 were arrested following the Republican Guards clashes between Morsi supporters and security forces on 8 July; all of them were later released. 72 were arrested during violence at Nasr road, near the pro-Morsi Rabaa sit-in on 26 July.
Later, 816 were arrested following the dispersal of the pro-Morsi Rabaa sit-in on 14 August, with 37 of the detainees dying of teargas suffocation as they were being transferred to Abu Zaabal prison. During the dispersal of the other pro-Morsi sit-in at Al-Nahda Square in Giza, at least 329 people were arrested.
Meanwhile, at least 654 people were arrested on background of violence which took place around Ramses Square on 16 August.
At least two were arrested for breaking the curfew in effect since 14 August, while 15 were reported by the FEDP to have been randomly arrested during the past two months. Following the dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins, interim president Adly Mansour issued a state of emergency, valid for a month.
Ashraf Mohamed of the Ministry of Interior’s press office said that the exceptional decisions taken by the state, such as issuing a state of emergency, have not been put into effect up until now.
“All arrests were carried out according to decisions by the prosecutor general,” Mohamed said.
Labour rights lawyer and Revolutionary Socialists (RevSoc) member Haitham Mohamedein was arrested on his way to Suez on Thursday. Mohamedein explained in a statement describing the event of his arrest that he was arrested after the officer was suspicious of him due to his long beard, searching him without a warrant and confiscating his belongings. After being held for two days without charge, he was presented in front of a prosecutor.
According to Ramy Ghanem, one of the 20 lawyers present during the investigations, the accusations directed at Mohamedein ranged from “forming a secret organisation which aimed at shifting the structure of society” to “incitement and assistance to subvert public institutions, harming social peace,” among a number of other “political accusations”. Ghanem said that the official asking the questions “is a prosecutor, however it appears that he has the authority of an investigative judge and [Haitham] is standing trial in front of a Supreme State Security Court of Emergency.”
Ahmed Othman, a lawyer from the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre (HMLC), said that nothing has changed since 25January and 30 June, except that the majority of arrests are now directed towards members of the Muslim Brotherhood. The national security agency is responsible for investigating the events.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been issued arrest warrants daily, under investigation for statements made during the pro-Morsi Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in as well as acts of violence during Morsi’s year in power. Prominent Islamist figures such as Mohamed Al-Beltagy and Safwat Hegazy were arrested in August under charges ranging from incitement to killing protestors to torture.
Malek Adly, lawyer at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), said that “emergency law has not led to arrests as criminal law is sufficient”
“Emergency law arrests are usually political arrests,” he said. “Most recent arrests have been under the scope of criminal law.”
Adly described proliferating calls for extending the current state of emergency, which is due to expire on Saturday, as “incomprehensible”. So far, no official intention to extend the state of emergency has been disclosed.