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Egypt arrests comedian who mocked police

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian police have arrested a young comedian who had mocked police in a videotaped prank two years ago, his defense lawyer said Monday. Plainclothes police raided Shady Abu Zaid's house in Cairo early Sunday and arrested him, his lawyer, Azza Soliman, told The Associated Press.

She said police refused to tell Abu Zaid's family where they were taking him or if he faces any charges. His whereabouts remain unknown. The police also seized money, mobile phones and laptops, Soliman said.

His sister, Roula Abu Zaid, confirmed the arrest in a Facebook post. She said she tried to follow the police officers after they left the house with her brother but that other police prevented her from doing so.

The AP placed several phone calls to the Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, but no one answered. Abu Zaid worked as correspondent for a popular but recently canceled satirical program hosted by a puppet named Abla Fahita. Now he produces a show, "The Rich Content," which is shared on social media networks.

A 2016 video showed Abu Zaid and a young actor, Ahmed Malek, handing out what they said were celebratory balloons to policemen in Tahrir Square on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. The balloons were actually condoms, with "From the youth of Egypt to the police on Jan. 25" written on them.

Egypt has waged a massive crackdown on dissent since the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president in 2013. Thousands of people have been jailed, and rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, say disappearances and torture are on the rise.

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