Rights Group Urges Egypt to Find Missing Dissident
Human Rights Watch urged Egyptian authorities on Tuesday to establish the whereabouts of a missing opposition activist following their denials he was in their custody.
Former lawmaker Mostafa al-Naggar disappeared in September and there has been no word on his whereabouts since.
He was sentenced to three years in prison in 2017 on charges of "insulting the judiciary" and his disappearance gave rise to allegations he was in custody.
But the government "categorically" denied it had detained him.
"The Egyptian authorities can easily take action to try to locate Mostafa al-Naggar," said HRW's deputy Middle East and North Africa director Michael Page.
HRW said the authorities' "lack of interest" in revealing Naggar's whereabouts was of "deep concern given their systematic practice of carrying out disappearances and publishing misinformation to cover their tracks."
Naggar's lawyer Negad al-Borai told AFP that he filed a request with police to search for him.
"Nobody spoke publicly about the subject on whether he was seen in custody or having escaped," Borai said.
HRW said the authorities' failure to find him was "more evidence of their wanton disregard for the well-being of its own citizens."
In October, Egypt's State Information Service said Naggar "is not in custody and the authorities have no knowledge of his whereabouts."
It dismissed "all rumours and allegations of his enforced disappearance" and said Naggar is "a fugitive willingly evading serving a sentence against him."
Since the army overthrew elected Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, authorities have cracked down on dissent, effectively banning protests and jailing liberal and secular activists as well as Islamists.
Authorities insist the measures are necessary to maintain stability and counter terrorism.