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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

Egyptian human rights activist detained in Beirut, later released

Wednesday , 24 May 2023

Egyptian human rights activist Abdelrahman Tarek, known by the nickname Moka, was arrested Wednesday in Beirut before later being released, according to multiple sources.

Moka previously endured seven years of arbitrary imprisonment in Egypt, according to online news site Daraj, for participating in a 2013 protest against military trials of civilians, among other human rights advocacy work.

He said he was subjected to torture by Egyptian authorities during his imprisonment. He was released in June 2022 and moved to Beirut last winter.

In a Twitter post, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor said, “I hear extremely disturbing news that Egyptian HRD [human rights defender] in exile in Lebanon, AbdelRahman Tarek (Moka), was arrested today with no warrant by 3 men in plainclothes who broke into his house & took him by private car to the intelligence branch of internal security in Beirut.”

Ayman Mhanna, director of the Samir Kassir Foundation, told L’Orient Today that the foundation worked with local and international organizations to provide legal support and pressure Lebanese authorities for Moka’s immediate release.

"It is extremely alarming that the Lebanese authorities have reportedly arrested Moka without presenting an arrest warrant nor providing a reason for his arrest," Ramzi Kaiss, the Lebanon researcher at Human Rights Watch told L'Orient Today. "Lebanese authorities must ensure that [Moka] can access all his rights and is able to meet with his lawyers. Authorities must also ensure that he is not forcibly returned to Egypt, where he faces the risk of persecution and torture.

Moka was eventually released Wednesday evening, according to his sister, Mhanna and Kaiss.

Contacted by L'Orient Today, the ISF did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It is very shocking that Beirut, which has always been, despite all the challenges, a safe haven for civic activists and human rights defenders and journalists from all over the region … for Beirut to become a place where they could be arrested or detained, this is something unacceptable,” said Mhanna prior to Moka's release.

In a Facebook post, Moka’s sister Sarah Tarek said he was arrested at his house around 2 p.m. on Wednesday for unknown reasons. In the post, made 4:44 p.m. Beirut time, she said the family did not have further information, including on his whereabouts.

In a follow-up post made at 5:06 p.m. Beirut time, Tarek said a friend of Moka’s was on the phone with him at the time of the arrest and overheard officers saying Moka would be returned to Egypt.

“I demand the Lebanese authorities and the Lebanese security to reveal my brother's whereabouts and leave him alone,” Tarek said in her second post. “Any intention to deport Moka to Egypt is a decision that poses a threat to his life and I hold the Lebanese authorities responsible.”

According to Tarek, Moka returned home after his release Wednesday evening.

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