At least 74 people were detained during nationwide security raids that began on Thursday and carried on into Friday.
The raids took place ahead of protests planned for Monday that object to a Saudi-Egyptian government deal which transferred the sovereignty of two Red Sea islands to the gulf kingdom.
A number of the arrested were referred to the National Security prosecution, and four were transferred on Saturday to the general prosecution, according to rights lawyer Mokhtar Mounir.
According to a count made by the Front of Defence for Egyptian Protesters (FDEP), at least 88 were arrested during the security raids on Thursday and Friday. Fourteen have been released from custody since then. Prominent leftist activist and member of the Revolutionary Socialists movement Haitham Mohamadein was among the activists who were arrested from their homes on Friday.
On Monday he was ordered to spend fifteen days in remand by the prosecution on charges of belonging to an outlawed group. Also arrested from his home was Anas Azab, the admin of a Facebook page that advocates against arbitrary detention. He was arrested along with his father on Thursday in Alexandria.
Azab was taken into custody by the military police, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) lawyer Mohamed Hafez, before being transferred to Al-Montazah prosecution office. His father was interrogated in Al-Montazah police station about the page his son is running.
A protest planned for by families of the “forcibly disappeared” was cancelled on Friday over concerns of security raids and heightened security measurements in Cairo’s downtown where the protest was planned to take place on Saturday.
Security raids carried out by police forces began Thursday night and continued into Friday. The raids mostly took place in the capital, but reports from activists and human rights lawyers claimed that raids also took place in other governorates, including Alexandria and Gharbeya.
Lawyer Sameh Samir of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) reported that late Thursday evening security forces “in plain clothes” stormed a café in downtown Cairo, called Ghazal, and randomly arrested nearly 20 people, including two writers and a lawyer, kicking off a series of similar raids.
The raids also preceded a visit made by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to the High Court of Justice, located in downtown Cairo, to celebrate Judiciary Day. The crackdown and arrests come after Al-Sisi denied on Thursday a report from Al-Shorouk that alleged the presidency commanded that officials tighten security ahead of the scheduled protests to avoid a repetition of the mass demonstrations, also over the Red Sea islands, that took place 15 April. Similar security crackdowns were conducted in January ahead of the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution.
Calls have been renewed by several political forces to repeat protests over the islands issue on Monday.