Plainclothes Egyptian state security officers pounced on Suhayb Saad as he left a Cairo restaurant in June.

They blindfolded the activist and his two dining companions, a student and a photojournalist, and drove them away in a white minivan in what relatives and rights groups describe as enforced disappearances.

Five weeks later Saad, who officials said was lawfully arrested, appeared on television, looking dishevelled and weak and confessing to a role in what the military called a dangerous terrorist cell.

Such detentions and videotaped confessions are a new feature of a crackdown on dissent launched after the military toppled Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013 — Egypt’s first freely-elected president — after mass protests, rights groups say.

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