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article imageAmnesty urges release of Egyptian lawyer held over yellow vests

By AFP     Feb 18, 2019 in World

Rights group Amnesty International called Monday for the release of an Egyptian lawyer arrested after posing in a photo wearing a yellow vest symbolic of protests in France.

Mohamed Ramadan, a human rights lawyer, was arrested on December 10 in the northern city of Alexandria on charges including spreading false news, distribution and possession of leaflets and yellow vests.

His arrest came as reports circulated that Egyptian authorities were restricting the sale of yellow vests -- the symbol of an ongoing protest movement in France.

Several traders told AFP in December that sale of the vests had been curbed under instructions from Egyptian authorities.

Ramadan's "detention over a Facebook post mocking government restrictions on the sale of yellow vests is utterly absurd," said Amnesty's North Africa campaigns director Najia Bounaim.

"The Egyptian authorities must release him immediately and unconditionally and drop all the charges against him," she added.

Ramadan has been held in custody since his arrest and a hearing on Tuesday is set to discuss prolonging his pre-trial detention, his lawyer Mohamed Hafez said.

France's "yellow vest" protests began in November against rising fuel taxes and quickly evolved into broader opposition to government policy, spiralling into violence in Paris and other cities.

Egypt imposed heavy restrictions on demonstrations under a 2013 law passed following the military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi after mass protests against his rule.

Rights groups regularly criticise Egypt for curbing freedom of expression and crushing dissent.

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