Egyptian authorities detain former diplomat after calls for referendum, family says

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pictured in Cairo on December 11, 2017.

(CNN)An Egyptian former diplomat was detained by authorities in Cairo on Thursday, just two weeks after calling for a referendum on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's government, family members told CNN.

"Security forces took my father, Maasoum Marzouk, from our home without explanation and without cause just for practicing his constitutional rights of calling for a referendum," Maisara Marzouk said.
"A minibus of around 15 civilian-dressed, armed security personnel arrived at 1pm and arrested him, then searched his house and took his personal belongings without showing us the legal permit for that procedure," she added.
    Maasoum Marzouk was detained by Egyptian authorities on Thursday.
    Khaled Ali, Marzouk's lawyer, confirmed the detainment, adding that seven opposition leaders also were arrested in the sweep.
    Marzouk is a former ambassador and assistant minister of foreign affairs. He is renowned for his criticism of the Sisi government. He recently founded The People's Democratic Party, an opposition party.
    Egyptian authorities have not informed Marzouk's lawyer or family members of any charges that he faces. They believe he is being interrogated for his calls for a national referendum on the president.
    Egypt's Ministry of Interior did not reply to a request for comment.
    In a statement issued on August 5, Marzouk called for a public referendum to answer one question: "Do you accept that the current regime stays in power?"
    The statement outlined a series of critiques, including some of Sisi's political, social and economic policies, which Marzouk said threatened Egypt's well-being. Marzouk's econo