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Pro-Democracy Youth Leaders in Egypt Detained on False Charges

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UPDATE (5:40pm 2.18.10): Per an April 6 Movement member, Ahmed Maher's office was raided by Egyptian Police today. His computer was confiscated and his boss was forced to fire him.

(UPDATE: The two activists were just released by the prosecutor, but then the state security ordered the police not to release them and instead send them to security administration...)

Jailed on false charges and still 19 months away from presidential elections that could bring democracy to Egypt, April 6 Movement activists face escalated police brutality echoing action previously taken against them to disable their demonstrative impact against President Mubarak's oppressive regime.

As many of you know, we just left Cairo not even a week ago after spending time with many human rights activists fighting to develop a true democracy in their country. We were introduced to Ahmed Salah, the leader of the April 6 Movement and a long-time political and human rights leader in his country. After spending an evening with Ahmed and many of his friends, including April 6 Movement co-founder Ahmed Maher, we grew to understand that Egypt is not as democratic and forward thinking country as many would expect. In fact, it appears to be on the insanely fast decline as their leadership continues to strip them of their rights with forged elections, absurd laws that make getting together with more than five people in public illegal (whether it's dinner with friends or family who may be considered political, rallying on the street in non-violence, or simply sharing ideas in a book club from an author the government disapproves of), and unjust detainment without any real trial that can lead to torture or long-term imprisonment.

We just got news from our good friend Stephanie Rudat via twitter and through the April 6 Movement facebook group, that Ahmed Meher has been illegally arrested and is now being held in custody for taking part in a simple meeting. We will have more info up ASAP but these types of human rights abuses are happening every day and need to be made public.

Contrary to some reports, April 6 Movement leaders were NOT spray painting walls to land themselves in jail. According to fellow members of the opposition group, April 6 Movement, Ahmed Maher and Amr Ali were returning home from preparation activities surrounding the anticipated welcome home events planned for Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei this Friday and were stopped at one of the many check points in Cairo. Egyptian police informed Maher that the license plate number of the purported vandals reportedly matched his vehicle. The officers allegedly damaged Maher's vehicle, planted false evidence, and in addition to claiming that Maher and Ali defaced walls, Maher is being accused of trying to change the regime and the constitution which is considered a crime in Egypt. April 6 Movement members believe the unjust detainment and arrests are an attempt to confine Maher through the celebratory demonstrations being planned among the many supporters of ElBaradei and intimidate April 6 Movement members from participating.

ElBaradei is a highly respected international leader from having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 and serving as the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency. A potential 2011 Presidential candidate, many believe he has the greatest odds of defeating the existing regime led by President Hosni Mubarak of nearly 30 years.

April 6 Movement is considered a leading pro-democracy activist youth groups in Egypt. Ahmed Maher, Co-founder, April 6 Movement; and Amr Ali, Member, April 6 Movement; are the two April 6 Movement activists that are currently unjustly jailed.

The U.S. currently gives Egypt financial aid of approximately $2 Billion annually with no strings attached. The corruption, extreme poverty, abuse of power, routine tactics of threats and torture are not well known in the U.S. but need to be. Supporting the development of democracy worldwide and standing up for human rights is not as difficult for us as it is for them.