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Arrest Of Prominent Egyptian Activist Ignites Fear And Anger Online

Police arrested Alaa Abd El Fattah, allegedly beat him and his wife, confiscated their laptops, and reportedly compromised their email and social media accounts.

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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:

Police broke into our house arrested @alaa and beaten me. They stole both our laptops and both our mobiles.

لا لدستور العسكر

@manal

Police broke into our house arrested @alaa and beaten me. They stole both our laptops and both our mobiles.

/ Via

blood stains in our bedroom where police have beaten @alaa اثار الدم في غرفة نومنا بعد ان ضربته الداخلية

لا لدستور العسكر

@manal

blood stains in our bedroom where police have beaten @alaa اثار الدم في غرفة نومنا بعد ان ضربته الداخلية

/ Via

If police already beaten me in our house, what are they going to do to @alaa . I fear for his safety.

لا لدستور العسكر

@manal

If police already beaten me in our house, what are they going to do to @alaa . I fear for his safety.

/ Via

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.

Apparently everyone should be changing their passwords, since the cops have @Alaa & @Manal's laptops and phones.

Omar Robert Hamilton

@ORHamilton

Apparently everyone should be changing their passwords, since the cops have @Alaa & @Manal's laptops and phones.

/ Via

Accounts of some of those who hacked @Monasosh's accnts --> @uns3cure, http://t.co/8fTzSw8Pw9, http://t.co/IoLW8Hofhx http://t.co/3hyjSwDUZg

Mostafa Hussein

@moftasa

Accounts of some of those who hacked @Monasosh's accnts --> @uns3cure, http://t.co/8fTzSw8Pw9, http://t.co/IoLW8Hofhx http://t.co/3hyjSwDUZg

/ Via

We've regained access to the NoMilTrials Facebook page. Pls RT

Rasha Abdulla

@RashaAbdulla

We've regained access to the NoMilTrials Facebook page. Pls RT

/ Via

In the confusion that followed Alaa's arrest, friends and activists used Google maps to track rumors of Alaa's whereabouts...

This is the location of the Central Security Forces barracks in the desert where @Alaa is being held https://t.co/Y9xvu5ecAv

Omar Robert Hamilton

@ORHamilton

This is the location of the Central Security Forces barracks in the desert where @Alaa is being held

https://t.co/Y9xvu5ecAv

/ Via

...and used Google reverse image to prove police reports as false.

The police have posted a picture of @Alaa claiming it's from tonight: https://t.co/vClnKuZqCo But it's from June http://t.co/5JHrnG4CmY

Omar Robert Hamilton

@ORHamilton

The police have posted a picture of @Alaa claiming it's from tonight: https://t.co/vClnKuZqCo

But it's from June http://t.co/5JHrnG4CmY

/ Via

They also brought back #freeAlaa, which had been used during Alaa's many arrests under the previous three governments.

عمك مصرى

@AElMassry

again! #freeAlaa

/ Via

The online anger was palpable.

Sharif Kouddous

@sharifkouddous

Rage #FreeAlaa

/ Via

My heart breaks every time I have to tweet this#FreeAlaa and bless his wife and son :( #freeAlaa (again)

Nelly Ali

@nellyali

My heart breaks every time I have to tweet this#FreeAlaa and bless his wife and son :( #freeAlaa (again)

/ Via

The idea of another #FreeAlaa campaign is really emotionally exhausting! It's like he's responsible for everything that ever goes wrong!!!

Rasha Abdulla

@RashaAbdulla

The idea of another #FreeAlaa campaign is really emotionally exhausting! It's like he's responsible for everything that ever goes wrong!!!

/ Via

Indeed @alaa is #Egypt's political weathervane for state & society. His arrests have correlated with heightened regime insecurity #FreeAlaa

Amro Ali

@_amroali

Indeed @alaa is #Egypt's political weathervane for state & society. His arrests have correlated with heightened regime insecurity #FreeAlaa

/ Via

Seems whether under #SCAF, under #Morsi, or now, the #FreeAlaa hashtag never goes out of fashion. #Egypt

H.A. Hellyer د. إتش

@hahellyer

Seems whether under #SCAF, under #Morsi, or now, the #FreeAlaa hashtag never goes out of fashion. #Egypt

/ Via

protesting in november 2011 when @alaa was also detained #FreeAlaa by SCAF

Evronia Azer

@evronia

protesting in november 2011 when @alaa was also detained #FreeAlaa by SCAF

/ Via

Amidst the outcry, Alaa's exact condition still remained uncertain, as did the political repercussions of his arrest.

List of Egyptian embassies if y'all feel like going out and making a nuisance of yourselves tomorrow http://t.co/zxeXMgITBY

Omar Robert Hamilton

@ORHamilton

List of Egyptian embassies if y'all feel like going out and making a nuisance of yourselves tomorrow http://t.co/zxeXMgITBY

/ Via

Expect to see lots of tweets with the hashtag #FreeAlaa in the coming hours. Or will it be for days? Weeks? #Egypt

Andy Carvin

@acarvin

Expect to see lots of tweets with the hashtag #FreeAlaa in the coming hours. Or will it be for days? Weeks? #Egypt

/ Via

Alaa's arrest shows why MOI wanted this law w the vague language in Art7= to give them them the discretion to arrest any activist they want

hebamorayef

@hebamorayef

Alaa's arrest shows why MOI wanted this law w the vague language in Art7= to give them them the discretion to arrest any activist they want

/ Via

And the army seems to have lifted its hand. The Interior Ministry has carte blanche, and there is a public appetite for this. Dark days.

أبو كار

@Sarahcarr

And the army seems to have lifted its hand. The Interior Ministry has carte blanche, and there is a public appetite for this. Dark days.

/ Via

Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor

Contact Miriam Berger at miriam.berger+done@buzzfeed.com.

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