Egyptian police detained seven men accused of using Facebook for inciting people against the security forces, the Interior Ministry said on Thursday, clamping down on internet activism by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Mursi.
It said the men, aged between 21 and 43, were behind an array of Facebook sites, some of which had published the addresses of policemen. It follows the February 16 announcement of the arrest of 14 other Muslim Brotherhood activists on similar charges.
Mursi’s supporters have drawn extensively on Facebook as a means to organise since July, when the Islamist politician was deposed by the military after mass protests against his rule and the state launched a fierce crackdown on his backers.
While the police have pressed the crackdown, bombings and shootings targeting the security forces have become commonplace. The state says it is facing a terrorist campaign it has vowed to crush.
The Interior Ministry statement named one of the Facebook sites as “The Pulse of Rabaa” – a reference to the pro-Mursi protest camp broken up by the security forces on August 14. Hundreds of Mursi supporters were killed in that operation.
It said the security forces had traced the users’ “electronic footprint” to catch them. The Interior Ministry spokesman declined to give further details.
The government accuses the Brotherhood of carrying out the violence, saying it has turned to terrorism – a charge the Islamist group denies. Thousands of Mursi supporters have been arrested since he was overthrown.