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Egyptians deported from Bahrain charged with terrorism 'for political reasons'

Sayed el-Agez and Muhammad Hassanein's whereabouts were unknown to their lawyers and families for two weeks. They resurfaced in Egypt, facing terrorism charges
Muhammad Hassanein and Sayed el-Agez had been living in Bahrain for more than eight years when they are arrested (Supplied)
Muhammad Hassanein (left) and Sayed el-Agez had been living in Bahrain for more than eight years when they were arrested (Supplied)

A pair of Egyptians who disappeared for two weeks after they were arrested in Bahrain earlier this month have resurfaced in Egyptian custody on terrorism-related charges, according to a human rights group and an informed source.

Sayed el-Agez, a 59-year-old businessman, and Muhammad Hassanein, a 45-year-old computer engineer, had been living in Bahrain for more than eight years when they were detained on 2 August. 

For two weeks, their families struggled to get answers about where the men were. They have said they believe the warrants, brought by Egypt and used to arrest them in Bahrain, were issued for political reasons.

The government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in office since 2014, routinely brings terrorism charges against peaceful political opponents, journalists, human rights defenders and critics. 

On Wednesday, Agez's lawyer, Ismail Rashid, said his client was in Egypt and that the two had attended a meeting with authorities. Later, he told Mada Masr that Agez had been charged with financing and assuming leadership of a terrorist group.

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An informed source, who declined to go on record because they are not authorised to comment on the case, said Agez was sentenced in absentia in another case in 2015 or 2016, and it was most likely this ruling that was cited in the warrant used to arrest him in Bahrain.

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The source said Agez has denied the new charges in full and is attempting to initiate proceedings against the earlier conviction handed down while he was in Bahrain.

The Supreme State Security Prosecution, which is overseeing the terrorism charges against Agez, ordered his detention for 15 days. 

Then, late on Friday, the Egyptian Front for Human Rights said Hassanein is also in Egyptian custody and appeared before the State Security Prosecution in Cairo with Agez on Wednesday.

He is also charged with joining and financing a terrorist group, EFHR reported.

The men's cases come as scores of Egyptians living abroad have faced the risk of deportation - or actually been deported - in recent years, many over their purported political positions.

There have also been concerns raised by human rights groups and UN experts about the use of warrants circulated by the Arab Interior Ministers' Council, an Arab League security body, to apprehend individuals in the region wanted for political reasons. 

It remains unclear which agency issued or circulated the warrants for Agez and Hassanein. 

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