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Activist Alaa Abd El Fattah Detained By Egyptian Authorities

BY Nick Judd | Monday, October 31 2011

Alaa abd el Fattah speaking at Personal Democracy Forum 2011 in New York in June. The Egyptian activist is reportedly being detained by authorities in his home country pending investigation of charges against him. Photo: Esty Stein / PdF

Egyptian activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was detained Sunday by Egyptian authorities after refusing to answer questions from a military prosecutor, Reuters reports.

Abd El Fattah now faces 15 days of detention pending an investigation, according to a report from another blogger who is also a veteran of Tahrir Square. He was summoned to Egypt related to charges of "inciting violence and sabotage," per Reuters, pertaining to Oct. 9 clashes between the army and protesters in which at least 25 people were killed. Another activist, Bahaa Saber, was also called to appear before authorities but was released on bail. Abd El Fattah says military officials are "working on framing" others for deaths that activists believe are the military's responsibility, Reuters reports.

"Today Alaa Abd El Fattah was summoned to the Military Prosecutor's office, accused of assaulting military personnel, stealing and destroying military weaponry and inciting violence against the military in the events of 9 October at Maspero," a statement released on Sunday from No to Military Trials for Civilians, of which Abd El Fattah's sister Mona Seif is a co-founder, reads in part. "On questioning, Abd El Fattah declined to answer the prosecutor’s questions, stating that it is illegal and a clear conflict of interest for the military, as a party accused of a crime in the same events, to hold proceedings or adjudicate fairly. He was sent to detention pending further military investigation."

Writing for Global Voices, fellow Tahrir Square veteran Rasha Abdulla explains that Abd El Fattah — a well known activist and blogger who also spoke at Personal Democracy Forum 2011 — had returned to Cairo from San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday to answer military officials' demand that he appear for questioning. But Abd El Fattah refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of a military procedure, and insisted a civilian judge be involved.

No to Military Trials for Civilians says there have been as many as 12,000 other secret, military trials for civilians. This isn't Abd El Fattah's first time in detention, either; Abdulla reports that the activist was detained in 2006 for 45 days.