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Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Egyptian democracy campaigner arrested
By Caroline Hawley in Cairo

The authorities in Egypt have arrested a prominent pro-democracy campaigner, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, accusing him of receiving foreign funds and tarnishing Egypt's reputation.

Mr Ibrahim's wife told the BBC he was taken from his home late on Friday night along with files, his personal computer and the family safe.

State security prosecutors have ordered him held for 15 days under Egypt's emergency laws.

Shocking arrest

Mr Ibrahim is a respected academic, a professor of sociology who also heads a research centre which promotes civil and minority rights.

His arrest has shocked fellow members of Egypt's civil society.

The authorities have been upset in the past by Mr Ibrahim, due to the work he has done on the status of Egypt's Coptic Christians.

The accusations he faces now appear to be linked to a civic education programme he has been running in advance of parliamentary elections due later this year.

EU funding

Specifically, lawyers say he has been charged with taking European Union funds to make a film that damages the reputation of the Egyptian Government, both at home and abroad.

Mr Ibrahim's supporters say the only film he has been making is a documentary to encourage participation in the forthcoming elections, which he had been planning to monitor to ensure they were clean.

One human rights activist described Mr Ibrahim's arrest as part of continuing harassment and intimidation of Egypt's independent voices.

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