A spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet's office said the UN is "very concerned" about the Egyptian government's continued targeting of human rights advocates, which she said has a "profound chilling effect on an already weakened Egyptian civil society".
"Human rights defenders should be able to work without fear of arrest or reprisals, wherever they are", a spokesperson said.
Egyptian authorities on Thursday arrested the executive director of a leading human rights group, the third member to be taken into custody in less than a week despite global criticism. Pro-government media this week accused the EIPR and other human rights groups of treason and tarnishing the nation's image.
"France maintains a frank, exacting dialogue with Egypt on human rights issues, including individual cases". They included envoys from Germany, France, Italy, Spain and other European Union countries, as well as diplomats from Canada and Great Britain, the EIPR said in a statement.
Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Democrat Chris Coons, co-chairs of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, sent a letter to the Egyptian embassy in Washington last month, The Hill reported on Friday, advocating on behalf of Ramy Kamel, who has been imprisoned since November 2019. The meeting, it added, focused on "ways of supporting the enhancement of human rights in Egypt and globally".
He is the third member of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights arrested this week.
"These arrests, following a meeting at EIPR with western diplomats, serve a heavy blow against the legitimate work of human rights defenders".
Security forces arrested Gasser Abdel-Razek at his home in Maadi, south of Cairo, and took him to an unknown location, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EiPR) said on Twitter.
On November 15, authorities arrested Muhammad Bashir, administrative director of EIPR.
The EIPR described the arrests as a "clear and co-ordinated response" to its work, which includes monitoring places of detention and the issuance of death sentences.
"The use of sweeping counter-terrorism laws and vague charges such as "joining a terrorist organization" and "spreading false information" to harass and criminalise the work of human rights defenders is inconsistent with the rule of law and Egypt's obligations under worldwide human rights law", she said. Basheer faced additional questioning over "committing a crime of funding terrorism". He urged countries whose representatives met with the EIPR to publicly demand the release of the three men.
France expressed its concern after the arrest of Mr Bashir on Tuesday.
The U.N. human rights office condemned the arrests, declaring that it was "part of a broader pattern of intimidating organizations defending human rights" and was "inconsistent with the rule of law".
Some analysts and activists speculated that the Egyptian government was using the arrests as a message to foreign diplomats not to interfere in what it considers its domestic issues.
"We urge the government of Egypt to release those detained and to respect fundamental freedoms of expression and association", Brown said on Twitter.