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Egypt detains Internet activist
Egypt detains Internet activist
Egyptian security officers detained an Internet activist who belongs to an anti-government group, the man’s colleagues and a human rights group said on Tuesday.
Tuesday, March 3,2009 15:13
by Cynthia Johnston Reuters

Egyptian security officers detained an Internet activist who belongs to an anti-government group, the man"s colleagues and a human rights group said on Tuesday.

They said Rami al-Sweisy, a member of the Sixth of April Youth, was detained on Monday by security agents who went to his home and seized his computer, mobile phone and wallet.

It was the third detention in less than a month of an Internet activist in Egypt and came as the movement called for a national day of protest on April 6, the anniversary of clashes between police and workers in a Nile Delta textile town in 2008.

"This group of thugs carrying iron and wooden sticks frightened members of his (Sweisy"s) family. They seized his computer, mobile phone and wallet. Then they abducted Rami al-Sweisy in a private car," Sixth of April said on its blog.

Egyptian authorities have escalated tactics against bloggers and Web activists in recent weeks even as the government freed opposition politician Ayman Nour, one of its most prominent critics. Nour"s release had long been demanded by Washington.

Egypt"s Interior Ministry, which normally can quickly confirm detentions, said it had no information about Sweisy, and his supporters were describing the detention as an abduction.

Last month, security men detained Egyptian-German activist Philip Rizk and blogger Diaa Eddin Gad, who campaign for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They held both incommunicado. Rizk was freed after several days after an international outcry.

Gad remains held in an unknown location. Rights group Amnesty International said he was at risk of torture.

"It is clear a lack of punishment of the police for the crime of kidnapping Philip Rizk and Diaa Eddin Gad on Feb. 6 encouraged them to perpetrate the same crime for a third time in less than a month," the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said, adding Sweisy had reported receiving calls from state security demanding he appear before them.

"When he refused, he was threatened several times in an attempt to pressure him into leaving the April 6 movement".

The Sixth of April Youth is a leftist-leaning protest group formed after April 6 clashes in the Nile Delta town of Mahalla el-Kubra between police and workers demanding more pay to compensate for soaring inflation.

Three people were killed and more than 150 injured over two days of unrest in Mahalla, the culmination of more than a year of strikes by workers at a giant state-run textile factory.

Sixth of April Youth has since transformed into a more general anti-government movement, collecting members through the social networking site Facebook, which along with blogs has emerged as a major forum for government critics in Egypt.

The government has faced rising public anger over its enforcement of a blockade on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, especially since an Israeli offensive in Gaza in January.

Separately, the Egyptian government detained 15 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday over accusations of belonging to an illegal group and possessing anti-government literature, security sources said.

 (Writing by Cynthia Johnston; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Posted in Activites , Military Tribunal , Human Rights  
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