The arrests come amid growing public dissent against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Hundreds of protesters had gathered on Cairo's Tahrir Square and demanded the ouster of Egypt's strongman.
Egyptian authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people, according to a statement Wednesday from two prominent rights groups — the Egyptian Centre for Freedoms and Rights, and the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights.
The arrests came just days after hundreds of Egyptians took to the streets in different cities, demanding the resignation of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Three renowned political activists known for their outspoken criticism of the president are among those arrested by the country's security forces.
Authorities have identified the detained activists as Hazem Hosny and Hassan Nafaa, political science professors at Cairo University, and Khaled Dawoud, a journalist and former head of the liberal al-Dustour party.
Many of those arrested are being investigated for the alleged use of social media to spread false news, undermining national security, joining a banned terrorist group, and protesting without a permit, according to defense lawyers.
Growing dissent against el-Sissi
Friday's protest came after Mohamed Ali, an Egyptian building contractor and actor who lives in Spain, demanded el-Sissi's ouster in a series of videos that were widely circulated online. Ali accused el-Sissi and the military of corruption.
In his video on Friday, Ali called on Egyptians to take to the streets after a high-profile football match between rival Cairo clubs Al Ahly and Zamalek.
El-Sissi, who is currently attending the UN General Assembly in New York, denied the allegations last Saturday, calling the claims "lies and slander" and saying he was "honest and faithful" to the Egyptian people and military.
Public demonstrations are rare in Egypt after the government's harsh crackdown on dissent in the wake of the military coup that toppled former President Mohammed Morsi in 2013.
International rights groups urged Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest and immediately release those detained.
shs/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)