Three supporters of presidential hopeful, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq have been arrested by Egyptian security forces, members of his party announced yesterday.
The men were arrested and accused of spreading false information which would harm national security, two security sources told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Shafiq announced his attention to run in next year’s elections last month which would pit him against current President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and is seen by Al-Sisi’s critics as the only figure with the most potential to challenge the current leader.
The three arrested are members of Shafiq’s Egyptian National Movement party; one of the three, Hany Fouad, was arrested at his family’s home on the outskirts of Cairo, according to his brother Wael Fouad.
Security forces reportedly entered the family home at around 3am and searched the house, confiscating two mobile phones.
Whilst Shafiq has been vocal about his intention to run, Al-Sisi has yet to confirm whether he will seek a second term in office however it is expected that he will run next year and likely win as a crackdown on dissidence and the opposition during his presidency has meant little challenge to his power seat.
Shafiq announced his bid to run from the United Arab Emirates where he lived in exile since 2012, after he fled the country following an election defeat to the country’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi who was subsequently removed by a military coup led by Al-Sisi in 2013.
After the polls, Shafiq was tried in absentia on corruption charges and fled to the UAE. Last year, he was acquitted and was taken off airport watchlists.