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A photojournalists with his mouth tapped holds up his camera as he demonstrates with fellow colleagues in front of the journalist's syndicate in Cairo against repeated attacks on members of the press in Egypt on April 4, 2014. AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD KHALED

Egyptian artist faces ‘terrorism-related charges’

A Cairo state security prosecutor ordered this week the detention of Egyptian artist Amir Abdel-Ghani for 15 days, pending further investigation into “terrorism-related” charges, nine days after he was reportedly taken by unidentified men to an unknown location believed to be the state security agency, according to his lawyer.

Abdel-Ghani is facing charges of “belonging to a terrorist group”, “misusing social media” and “disseminating false news”, lawyer Mamdouh Gamal posted on his Facebook page.

“He rented a flat in downtown Cairo. During security inspection on renters, he was questioned shortly before he was taken,” Gamal told local independent Mada Masr news outlet.

“We call on the Presidential Pardon Committee and the prosecution-general to release him as he had no political activities, only using his art to express his thoughts and views,” Gamal added.

But, according to award-winning British-Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, Abdel-Ghani was detained for a graffiti he had drawn back in 2018 that expressed political ideas.

“Is it possible to disseminate false news through art too?” Soueif, also the aunt of prominent jailed activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, wrote.

Several dozen pre-trial detainees have been freed recently after the committee started working in May.

Egypt’s human rights record is regularly condemned under the regime of president Abel-Fattah El-Sisi, with local and international rights groups saying there are currently about 60,000 political prisoners behind bars over charges similar to Abdel-Ghani’s.

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