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Egypt jails key revolution figure Abdel Fattah for 5 years

By AFP
Egypt In this file photo taken on May 17, 2019, Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah gives an interview at his home in Cairo.  By Khaled DESOUKI, Khaled DESOUKI (AFP/File)
DEC 20, 2021 LISTEN
In this file photo taken on May 17, 2019, Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah gives an interview at his home in Cairo. By Khaled DESOUKI, Khaled DESOUKI (AFP/File)

Egypt on Monday sentenced Alaa Abdel Fattah, a leading figure in the 2011 revolution, to five years in jail with two others receiving four years, said his sister and a judical source.

Abdel Fattah, his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer and the blogger Mohamed "Oxygen" Ibrahim were convicted of "broadcasting false news" in their trial in Cairo.

"Alaa was sentenced to five years, Baqer four years and Mohamed Oxygen four years," his sister Mona Seif said on Twitter.

"The judge was too cowardly to even inform us," she said after the sentencing at the State Security Misdemeanours Court in the capital.

A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the verdict and sentencing to AFP.

Rulings in the court cannot be appealed. They require final approval by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Abdel Fattah, a computer programmer, blogger and high-profile activist who mobilised youths in the 2011 uprising that unseated autocrat Hosni Mubarak, had been in pre-trial detention since September 2019.

Pre-trial detention can last up to two years under Egyptian law, but in practice detainees are often kept waiting behind bars longer.

Abdel Fattah was arrested in the wake of rare night-time protests prompted by an exiled construction contractor calling for the removal of President Sisi on claims of corruption.

Baqer and Ibrahim were also detained in a massive crackdown.

Abdel Fattah has spent most of the past decade in jail.

Ahead of the trial, Egypt's foreign ministry lambasted the German government on Saturday for a statement calling for a "fair trial" and the release of the three dissidents.

Cairo described the German foreign ministry's release as "a blatant and unjustified meddling in Egyptian internal affairs".

Rights group say there are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt facing brutal, unhygienic conditions and overcrowded cells.

In a 2019 interview with the show 60 Minutes on broadcaster CBS, Sisi said there were no political prisoners in Egypt.

The former army chief became president in 2014 after leading the military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi a year earlier.

He has since overseen a sweeping crackdown on dissent. Those jailed for criticising the political status quo have included academics, journalists, lawyers, activists, comedians, Islamists, presidential candidates and MPs.

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