Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week.
Plainclothes security agents showed up at a beach resort in the Sinai last week, looking for Karim Ennarah, the director of the criminal justice unit at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a Cairo-based NGO. Egyptian state security officers had apparently looked for Ennarah at his home in Cairo the day before, only to learn he was on vacation. When the agents eventually arrived in Dahab, a popular beach getaway on the Gulf of Aqaba, they arrested Ennarah after questioning him for only a few minutes. According to Mada Masr, the independent Egyptian news site, he was thrown into a car and taken to an undisclosed location, his phone, laptop and other personal belongings all confiscated.
Days earlier, one of his EIPR colleagues, Mohammed Basheer, was arrested in Cairo. Soon after Ennarah’s arrest, and despite an immediate international outcry, Egyptian police came to the Cairo home of Gasser Abdel-Razek, the head of EIPR, and arrested him too. All three are being held in pretrial detention on concocted charges of joining a terrorist group and “spreading false news.”