Exiled Egyptian businessman complains of surveillance in Spain

Mohamed Ali, whose online call sparked rare protests against el-Sisi, says he is being followed in Spain.

    Mohamed Ali said he has been hiding from 'officers' who want to kill him [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]
    Mohamed Ali said he has been hiding from 'officers' who want to kill him [Screengrab/Al Jazeera]

    A former Egyptian military contractor whose social media videos sparked rare protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi over the weekend says he is being watched and followed by "officers" who "want to kill" him. 

    In a new video posted late on Monday, Mohamed Ali said a group of officers had been trailing him for two weeks in Spain, where he lives in self-imposed exile. 

    The surveillance began, he said, soon after he posted a video on social media accusing el-Sisi and the army of corruption and using public funds to build palatial residences. 

    "For two weeks I have been hiding and running away from them...bastard officers," he said, without specifying which nationality those spying on him belonged to.

    "They want to kill me ... I'm too tired to run any more. They are too many," Ali said. 

    Ali said he was holding the Spanish authorities responsible for his safety and security.

    "If I get killed in Spain, this proves that Europe is a liar just like the United States and is willing to give up anybody," he said. 

    The 45-year-old's videos - posted on Facebook and Twitter - have been viewed millions of times, turning him into a public figure in his homeland. On Friday, thousands of people took to the streets in several Egyptian cities demanding el-Sisi's departure. 

    Such shows of dissent are rare in Egypt, where el-Sisi has banned unauthorised demonstrations and jailed thousands of dissidents. 

    The president has denounced Ali's claims as "lies and slander".

    Ali has called for a million-man march on Friday to demand el-Sisi's removal from power.

    In his latest video, Ali expressed hope that the Egyptian ministries of defence and interior would exercise restraint in the face of protests against el-Sisi, and would not crack down on the protesters.

    He told protesters to only raise Egypt's flag during Friday's march, and called on university and school students to boycott their lessons from Tuesday until Thursday.

    More than 500 people have been arrested across Egypt since the protests erupted, according to the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights. 

    Meanwhile, Amr Magdi, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said he feared more repression in Egypt following the weekend demonstrations. 

    "Not only have hundreds of protesters reportedly been arrested, but security forces have also arrested lawyers trying to support detainees, as well as journalists or citizens shooting video of the crackdown," he said on Monday.

    "Authorities have moved to block news websites, including BBC Arabic and the US-funded Al-Hurra TV, and interrupted Internet services used by protesters, including Facebook Live and messaging apps," he added. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News