Egypt Releases Internet Activist

Egyptian security authorities have released an Internet activist after they detained him Monday at his home near Cairo.The activist group April 6 Youth Movement said security agents seized member Rami al-Sweisy in the early morning hours Monday (3:30 a.m. local time). The group also said agents searched Sweisy’s home, and confiscated his computer and mobile phone.

While Sweisy was in detention, interrogators reportedly tried to convince him to leave the April 6 Youth Movement. The group uses social media Web sites, such as Facebook, to organize rallies critical of the government. It is calling for a general strike over a variety of issues next month.

In January, security agents detained bloggers Philip Rizk and Diaa Eddin Gad, both critics of the Egyptian government.

Authorities released Rizk after several days, but Gad’s whereabouts remain unknown.

The Cairo-based human rights group, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, said bloggers have become a major target of the Egyptian police. The group accused authorities of acting unlawfully or using the cover of Egypt’s decades-old state of emergency to move against activists.

In its annual review last week, the United States said human rights conditions for people in Egypt remained poor in 2008.

The U.S. State Department said Egyptian authorities continue to deny or restrict their citizens’ ability to peacefully change their government, and continue to restrict press freedoms, including Internet use.

Egyptian authorities rejected the report’s findings.

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