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Egypt arrests diplomat who criticised handling of Ethiopia dam row  

June 7, 2021 at 3:34 pm

A general view of the Blue Nile river as it passes through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on 26 December, 2019 [EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images]

Egyptian authorities jailed a former ambassador last month allegedly in connection to his criticism of the government’s handling of the Great Ethiopia Renaissance Dam crisis, it was revealed yesterday.

According to the family of Yahya Najm, who served as Cairo’s ambassador to Venezuela, he was arrested following a raid by security forces at his home and subsequently “disappearing” for three days.

The New Arab reported, citing close sources to Najm that the state security prosecution charged him with “joining a terrorist group, spreading false news, and misusing social media” and that he was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment, pending investigation.

His family also claims that after the investigation, he was transferred to an unknown location “in flagrant violation of Egyptian law”.

Despite having “served his country as a diplomat for years”, Najm’s family believes his incarceration was “the price he paid for his freedom to defend the soul of his homeland”.

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In 2012, it was reported that Najm was among political opponents of the late-President Mohamed Morsi to have been detained and beaten by dozens of Islamist supporters.

Najm is said to have stated last month that Egyptian officials are in a “state of delirium, internal delirium, and schizophrenia, and make us an object of ridicule to the world”.

“This nonsense uttered by regime officials confirm that there are no institutions or a collective mind that runs the state and that whoever manages matters is one party, or one person, deceiving and drugging… the Egyptian people until the completion of the construction of the dam,” the former diplomat added.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last week that his country intends to build more than 100 dams as a means of resisting forces opposed to Ethiopia. However, this has become a security issue for Egypt which is almost entirely dependent on the Nile water. There are also plans for Ethiopia to build military bases in the Red Sea.

Egypt and Sudan concluded a joint-military drill earlier that week amid the rising tensions with Ethiopia.

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