Ahdaf Soueif, one of the activists arrested, is a highly regarded novelist [Rob Stothard/Getty Images]

Egypt has arrested and charged four prominent activists and authors who called for the government to release prisoners amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The four women were arrested on Wednesday on the charge of spreading false news and violating the country’s protest ban after they gathered outside the cabinet building.

The detentions of activist Mona Seif; her activist and professor mother Laila Soueif; novelist aunt Ahdaf Soueif and Rabab al-Mahdi, a professor and activist, came as Egypt tries to maintain its firm grip on dissent amid a burgeoning world health crisis.


“We are in front of the cabinet building, asking for the state to take serious steps regarding coronavirus in prisons. As

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