Police arrested a key Egyptian political activist and blogger at his home on Thursday, allegedly attacking his wife and confiscating their phones and laptops during the late night raid. Alaa Abd El Fattah's location was unknown for hours, but his lawyers are now reporting that he is being detained in a Central Security Forces barracks. His condition is still uncertain.
Twenty policemen, some masked and armed, broke down the door and stormed the home, according to Abd El Fattah's wife, Manal. Police reportedly beat Abd El Fattah and slapped his wife when he asked to see the warrant for his arrest, Mada Masr reported. The couple's two-year-old son slept through the ordeal. A neighbor reported seeing Abd El Fattah brought into a minivan, where an officer sat on him to restrain him. After the couple's phones and computers were confiscated, their email and social media accounts were reportedly compromised.
Abd El Fattah's wife tweeted the events:
The Prosecutor General had issued a warrant for Abd El Fattah's arrest on Wednesday, charging him with inciting illegal protests the day before. His sister, Mona Seif, was one of dozens this week arrested at protests. Abd El Fattah announced via his Facebook page that he would turn himself in Saturday at noon.
Abd El Fattah has been imprisoned twice before, first for 45 days under the rule of former president Hosni Mubarak, and then again for two months in 2011 by the then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. In 2013, under then President Mohamed Morsi, Abd El Fattah was summoned to court, but did not serve jail time. He and his wife have been vocal critics of all three governments, and active in revolutionary circles and online activism.
As news of the arrest and alleged social media hacking spread, a fear swept through Twitter and Facebook that other accounts could now be vulnerable.
In the confusion that followed Alaa's arrest, friends and activists used Google maps to track rumors of Alaa's whereabouts...
...and used Google reverse image to prove police reports as false.
They also brought back #freeAlaa, which had been used during Alaa's many arrests under the previous three governments.
The online anger was palpable.
Amidst the outcry, Alaa's exact condition still remained uncertain, as did the political repercussions of his arrest.
Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor
Contact Miriam Berger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.