The family of slain research student Giulio Regeni said on Tuesday that they were "especially anxious" over the arrest in Egypt of a human rights activist who was helping their legal team, announced by Amnesty International.
"We are especially anxious about the arrest of Ahmed Abdallah, chair of the board of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms non-government organisation, who has advised lawyers for the Regeni family," said the family's lawyer Alessandra Ballerini.
"The Regeni family, also in light of Amnesty's press release, expresses concern for the recent wave of arrests in Egypt targeting human rights activists, lawyers and journalists who are directly involved in searching for the truth on our son Giulio's kidnapping, torture and killing."
Amnesty International said on Tuesday that Abdallah was among 238 people, including foreign nationals, activists and journalists arrested on Monday across Egypt in an "apparently heavy-handed and ruthless" campaign to quash anti-government protests in Cairo and elsewhere.
Abdullah was arrested by what his representatives described as 'Special Forces' at his home early on Monday, Amnesty said. He faces multiple charges, including of inciting violence to overthrow the government, joining a “terrorist” group and promoting “terrorism”, according to Amnesty.
Italy on 8 April recalled its ambassador to Egypt after the failure of talks between Italian and Egyptian officials aimed at ending the deadlock over a probe into Regeni's killing around the time of an unprecedented security crackdown in Egypt to mark the fifth anniversary of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak's ousting in a popular revolt.
Regeni's mutilated, half-naked body bearing signs of torture was allegedly found in a ditch on Cairo's western outskirts on 3 February, nine days after he vanished in the capital on 25 January.
The 28-year-old Cambridge PhD student was researching independent trade unions, a sensitive topic in Egypt, and had written articles critical of the government that were published in an Italian newspaper under a pseudonym.
Cairo has vowed to "unravel the mystery" surrounding Regeni's brutal killing and strenuously denies claims by human groups that Egypt's security forces were behind the crime.
The wave of arrests in Egypt on Monday followed mass protests on 15 April after the handover to Saudi Arabia of some uninhabited Red Sea islands was announced, a move condemned by many Egyptian civil society groups as unconstitutional and lacking in transparency.