Amnesty International yesterday renewed its call on Egyptian authorities to "immediately" release prominent human rights defenders detained since last week.
This came following the announcement of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) that three of its senior employees were taken to the High Public Prosecution of the State Security services in Cairo.
"Three employees from the EIPR are being investigated by the High Public Prosecution of the State Security services," Amnesty International tweeted.
"We express our solidarity with them and call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release the EIPR employees without preconditions and to end the hunt campaign against them."
EIPR held a human rights briefing with 13 diplomats, the rights group explained, adding: "Shortly after this meeting, between 15 and 19 November, Egyptian security forces arrested Mohamed Basheer, Karim Ennarah and Gasser Abdel-Razek, respectively, Administrative Director, Criminal Justice Unit Director and Executive Director at the organization."
Three @EIPR staff are now being questioned by Supreme State Security Prosecutors. We are standing in solidarity with them today and call on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release EIPR staff and end the vicious crackdown on EIPR. #freeEIPRstaff https://t.co/NJQWzVi7Lg
— Amnesty MENA (@AmnestyMENA) November 23, 2020
It noted that the "three human rights workers are now arbitrarily detained pending investigations into charges of 'joining a terrorist group, spreading false news and misusing social media.'"
Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther, said: "This is an unprecedented crackdown on the human rights community and could well go beyond EIPR to engulf the few other remaining brave groups."
He added: "The tepid response by the international community risks emboldening the Egyptian authorities and sends a terrifying message to civil society that human rights work will not be tolerated."
Luther also said: "These arrests, the smear campaign against the organization and the government's baseless claim that EIPR operates illegally, show that this is a well-planned and concerted attack."
Human Rights Watch added that the Egyptian judiciary "is in service of repression," noting that the authorities "ignore release orders and set a revolving door of pretrial detention."