Egypt arrests leading feminist Azza Soliman, human rights groups calling for her immediate release

Women's rights advocate Azza Soliman, also the director of the Center of Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA), was arrested by security forces from her home. (AFP/File)

Women’s rights advocate Azza Soliman, also the director of the Center of Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA), was arrested by security forces from her home

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) appealed to the Egyptian authorities to “immediately release” women’s rights defender Azza Soliman, who was arrested from her home earlier today in connection to the foreign funding case.

According to CIHRS, this is the first arrest warrant to be issued against an NGO worker in relation to this case.

Soliman who is the Director of the Centre for Egyptian Women Legal Assistance (CEWLA) is currently being investigated in the New Cairo prosecution office by the investigative judge.

“Today’s arrest comes amidst the worst crackdown on the independent human rights movement in Egypt’s history,” CIHRS said in a statement published Wednesday.

Earlier in November, Soliman was banned from travel to Jordan. Airport authorities informed her then that a travel ban was issued against her, not mentioning further details on its reason.

Three other defenders were banned from travel in November, bringing the total to at least 80 “unconstitutional” travel bans imposed against defenders, activists, academics, and figures from the media and political opposition according to a report by CIHRS and the Association for Freedom of Though and Expression.

She was also informed by her bank in late November that her assets were frozen, citing a decision by the judge ruling in the NGO foreign funding case.

Case No. 173, known as the foreign funding case, dates back to 2011 and has accused a number of NGOs of allegedly receiving illegal foreign funding. The case was reopened in March with interrogations against human rights figures including former director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) Hossam Bahgat, director of Nazra for Feminist Studies Mozn Hassan, and director of Arab Network for Human Rights and Information Gamal Eid.

(Source / 09.12.2016)

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