CAIRO (AP) — A crackdown by Egyptian authorities on the most prominent human rights group still operating in the country sparked sharp criticism Friday by the UN the US and other Western countries.

This week, security forces arrested three senior staff members of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, including its executive director. The State Security Prosecutors leveled terror-related charges against them and ordered their pre-trail detention for 15 days.

During a press briefing in Geneva, the UN Human Rights Office Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani denounced the arrests as “a very worrying development that underscores the extreme vulnerability of civil society activists in the country.”

She expressed worry the arrests were “part of a broader pattern of intimidating organizations defending human rights and of the use of counter-terrorism and national security legislation to silence dissent.”

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