The student, whose name was reported as Mohamed T, did have the book with him at the time he was taken in, police say, but they maintain it wasn't the reason for his arrest. The Egyptian news website Mada Masr quoted security official Gen. Mahmoud Farouk as saying, "None of us knows anything about this novel in the first place."
Farouk maintains that the student was arrested for illegally filming security forces in Cairo. Other reports claim Mohamed T was also in possession of literature supporting the Islamic State, the violent, radical group also known as ISIS or ISIL.
President Sisi's Egypt has been criticized for what many claim are human rights violations. Last month, 23 secular activists were sentenced to three years in prison for peacefully protesting the government. Also last month, eight Egyptians were given prison sentences for "inciting debauchery" after attending what was apparently an engagement party for a gay couple.
Orwell's classic novel tells the story of Winston Smith, a government propagandist who begins to question his country's tyrannical rule. The book was banned by the Soviet Union for a while last century, and has even been challenged in parts of the United States.
In one famous passage from the novel, Orwell writes, "Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power."