A staff member at the US embassy in Cairo has been arrested by Egyptian authorities, an embassy spokesperson confirmed to Daily News Egypt Tuesday.
“We understand an Embassy employee, who is an Egyptian citizen, has been arrested by Egyptian security. We are in touch with Egyptian authorities regarding the charges and the next steps in the legal process,” the embassy spokesperson told Daily News Egypt.
The spokesperson was unable to confirm further information on the individual.
News reports in local Egyptian media regarding the arrest published Monday state that a security employee at the embassy, named Ahmed Ali, 42, was arrested Sunday on charges of participating in an Islamist terrorist group.
The reports claim that State Security prosecution accuse Ali of being a commander with a militant group, the Helwan Brigades, and participating in 13 attacks, including the bombing and burning of a Helwan court.
However, activists who have been documenting a wave of forced disappearances by the Egyptian security authorities in the past two weeks shared an account of a man named ‘Ahmed Amin Suleyman’, 44, who is claimed to be a staff member at the embassy. Suleyman reportedly had his house raided on 25 May, but he was not at home. The following day, Suleyman fell out of contact – 12 days before the reported arrest of ‘Ahmed Ali’.
Following his disappearance, his wife received a phone call informing her that her husband had been arrested. Family members went to the local Helwan police station, but were informed that Suleyman was not there. The family submitted a 1 June telegram to report his disappearance and request support, a copy of which was seen by Daily News Egypt.
At least 163 people have been forcibly disappeared and illegally held by security forces in the past two months, according to local activist network Freedom for the Brave.
However, some of the disappeared individuals have appeared at prosecution days later, on charges of belonging to an illegal organisation and unlawfully calling for protests. Some, like engineering student Ahmed Khuttab, who last weekend was re-detained for 15 days just a day after having been released, claim to have been beaten and tortured by security forces.
Activists believe many cases are linked to an upcoming strike called for by the 6 April Youth Movement, and are an attempt to neutralise activism by the Ministry of Interior. However, while 6 April is mainly composed of young students, the recent wave of disappearances has also targeted those of older ages.