‘Imprisoned for a dream’: Dissidents’ sentence confirms Egypt’s continuing crackdown


An Egyptian court sentenced prominent activist Alaa Abdel Fattah to five years in prison on Monday, marking the latest turn in a saga that has seen him spend most of the last decade behind bars, The Washington Post reports:

Human rights lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer, who had previously represented Abdel Fattah, and blogger Mohamed Ibrahim, known as “Oxygen,” were each sentenced to four years in prison. All three men were charged with “spreading false news undermining national security.” Under the rules of the court, there is no possibility for them to appeal — the sentence can be overturned only by President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi or someone he delegates.

The sentence in such a high-profile case suggested that the government had not scaled back its crackdown on dissent, The New York Times adds.

Anti-corruption demands

Alaa Abd El Fattah. Credit: Twitter

Abdel Fattah, Mohammed al-Baqer and Mohammed Ibrahim were among more than 2,000 people reportedly detained by security forces in response to protests against government corruption, the BBC observes. The three men were accused of “spreading false news undermining national security” and “using social media to commit a publishing offence”, as well as “joining a terrorist group”. Human rights activists said the charges stemmed from their criticism of the crackdown and treatment of prisoners.

Pro-democracy, civil society and human rights groups last month cited these cases in demanding that the US begins its membership term on the UN Human Rights Council in January 2022 by pushing for the establishment of a UN human rights monitoring mechanism in Egypt. They also called on the Biden administration to “take such steps to promote meaningful accountability for the systemic rights violations carried out by the Egyptian government with total impunity.”

National Endowment for Democracy (NED) board member Michele Dunne retweeted Amnesty International’s observation that the sentences were “a travesty of justice & reminder of #Egypt’s ruthless crackdown on dissent.”

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