Student blogger arrested at peaceful march in Egypt

A 26-year-old student and prominent blogger was arrested in Cairo on Friday while taking part in a peaceful march. Philip Rizk was taking part in a march to express solidarity with civilians affected by the conflict in the Gaza Strip. He was taken first to Abu Zaabal police station, but was then separated from lawyers who had been called to assist him. He was taken away in an unmarked police car to an undisclosed destination. His whereabouts have still not been disclosed by the Egyptian authorities, despite his family’s request, prompting growing anxiety. Some three days after his arrest, five plain clothed security officials, apparently members of State Security Investigations (SSI), visited his family home in Maadi at around 2am, further increasing his family’s anxiety. The officials did not produce a search warrant, but sought to take away documents belonging to Philip Rizk and only departed at around 5am. The same night, other SSI agents are reported to have visited another apartment in Maadi where Philip Rizk and his sister reside, using his keys to gain entry, and to have removed a number of items, including a camera. Amnesty International has written to the Egyptian authorities urging them to ensure the prompt release of Philip Rizk unless he is to face recognizable criminal charges and to stand trial in accordance with international fair trial standards. “The Egyptians authorities should make clear without delay the reasons and legal basis for Philip Rizk’s arrest and continuing detention, as well as his legal status and current place of detention,” said Malcolm Smart, Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme. “We urge the authorities to ensure that he is afforded full protection against possible torture or other ill-treatment and that he is permitted immediate access to legal counsel of his choice, contact with his family and any medical treatment that he may require.”