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Egyptian authorities arrest prominent activist, lawyer says

Sanaa Seif and her brother Alaa Abdel Fattah (back row, middle) have both spent time in prison for their activism
Sanaa Seif and her brother Alaa Abdel Fattah (back row, middle) have both spent time in prison for their activism HASAN MOHAMED AFP
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Cairo (AFP)

Egyptian authorities on Tuesday arrested a prominent activist and sister of an iconic figure of the 2011 uprising, as part of an ongoing crackdown on dissidents, her lawyer and family said.

Sanaa Seif, 26, was outside the public prosecutor's office when police detained her and took her away in a minibus, her lawyer Khaled Ali said.

Seif is sister of jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, a prominent figure of the 2011 uprising that unseated longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.

She is also the daughter of rights activist Laila Soueif.

Her lawyer said they later found out that Sanaa had been referred to prosecutors for investigation.

Authorities "refused to let us see her and we do not know where she will be jailed," her sister Mona Seif said on Twitter.

The interior ministry could not be immediately reached for comment.

Seif and members of her family were at the prosecutor's office on Tuesday to lodge a complaint after they were allegedly assaulted outside a prison complex the day before.

On Monday, Mona Seif said the family was attacked by a group of women outside Cairo's Tora prison complex, where Alaa is held.

She later posted photos showing bruises on her and her sister's bodies.

"We have been beaten up, dragged by the hair, clothes torn in front of Tora by women thugs on the watch of all police there," she wrote on Twitter.

The family had been at the prison in hope of receiving a letter from Alaa, who was imprisoned last September after Egypt saw rare, small-scale protests demanding the toppling of President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

Amnesty International condemned the attacks on the family and Seif's arrest.

"Sanaa Seif and her family have suffered years of harassment and intimidation for their human rights activism, but the events of the past two days mark another new low," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's MENA Research and Advocacy Director.

"The fact that Sanaa Seif was taken from right outside the Public Prosecutor's office shows just how brazen the Egyptian security forces have become," he said in a statement.

Egypt has increasingly targeted government critics in a crackdown since the 2013 military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

The clampdown has swept up thousands of the late Morsi's Islamist supporters as well as secular activists, lawyers and academics.

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