CAIRO (AP) — Amnesty International urged on Thursday Egyptian authorities to release a 29-year-old mother from custody after she went missing nearly two years ago together with her husband and toddler in what the group says was an act of forced disappearance.
According to a statement by the London-based watchdog, university teacher Manar Adel Abu el-Naga, her husband Omar Abdelhamid Abu el-Naga and their one-year-old son were taken by security agents from their home in the city of Alexandria in March 2019.
Their whereabouts remained unknown until she appeared in February before Egypt’s Supreme State Security prosecutors who ordered her pre-trial detention over terror charges. Amnesty demanded Egyptian authorities conduct an immediate investigation into the matter.
Manar Adel Abu el-Naga’s now three-year-old son was handed over to her relatives while nothing was publicly said about her husband’s whereabouts, Amnesty said.
“These egregious violations by security forces yet again illustrate the devastating effects of the prevailing climate of impunity in Egypt,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s research and advocacy director for Middle East and North Africa.
Amnesty also accused Egyptian security forces of pressuring Abu el-Naga to say she was arrested only two days prior to her February appearance before prosecutors.
A government media officer did not immediately respond to a request to comment on Amnesty’s statement.
Since 2015, activists say there has been a spike in secret arrests in Egypt, often followed by days or weeks of denial from state bodies of an individual’s detainment.
Luther from Amnesty said Abu el-Naga’s case shows the “ongoing campaign to stamp out dissent and instill fear has reached a new level of brutality.”
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in 2013, when he was defense minister, led the military’s removal of his predecessor and the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohammed Morsi after Morsi’s one-year rule proved divisive and sparked massive nationwide protests.
Since becoming president, el-Sissi has overseen an unprecedented crackdown that has tried to silence critics and jailed thousands.