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The New Arab

Egypt arrests PhD student researching judicial system

Walid al-Shobaky was missing for four days [Getty]

Date of publication: 29 May, 2018

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A PhD student from the University of Washington went missing on Wednesday as he researched Egypt's judicial system, only to appear later in front of prosecutors.
A University of Washington PhD student researching Egypt's judicial system has found himself at its mercy after being brought to the Supreme State Security Prosecution on Sunday.

Walid al-Shobaky was missing for four days before being meted a 15-day detention order by the prosecution, according to his lawyer Mokhtar Mounir.

The student at the University of Washington, last seen on Wednesday, has been accused of spreading false news and joining a terrorist group, said his lawyer Mounir, who works at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.

The lawyer added that Shobaky was brought to the prosecution with no lawyer present.   

Read more: Comment: In Sisi's Egypt, collective punishment tears entire families apart

Law and Philosophy professor at Zagazig University, Nour Farhat, posted on his personal Facebook page that he had received a phone call from Shobaky's relatives informing him of the student's disappearance.

According to Farhat, the student had met the law professor in his office on Wednesday 25 May to discuss the cultural context of the establishment of Egypt's judicial system.

"The researcher told me that he had met with a number of prominent law and judiciary experts in Egypt, before coming to me for help with his research. Today his brother messaged me on Facebook, saying that he cannot be reached."

Shobaky's case also includes lawyers and journalists, as well as welll-known anti-government blogger Wael Abbas, who was arrested in a dawn raid at his home on 24 May.

The student's arrest follows the high profile investigation into the death of Italian graduate student Guilio Regeni who two years ago was kidnapped and murdered in Cairo allegedly due to research he was conducting into Egypt's labour unions.

An Italian prosecutor said earlier this year that his research activities could have been a motive for Egypt security forces to take action. Cairo denies responsibility for Regeni's death.

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