Five years in prison for Alaa Abdel Fattah, figure of the revolt in Egypt

Alaa Abdel Fattah, a central figure in the 2011 revolt in Egypt currently in pre-trial detention, was sentenced to five years in prison by an exceptional Cairo court for “spreading false information”, announced on Monday on Twitter his sister. A judicial source on condition of anonymity confirmed the judgment, which cannot be appealed.

Two other activists were sentenced to four years in prison on the same charges: Mohamed al-Baqer, Alaa Abdel Fattah’s former lawyer, and blogger Mohamed Ibrahim, alias Oxygen. Nicknamed “the icon of the revolution” of 2011 which ousted President Hosni Mubarak from power, Alaa Abdel Fattah has already been the subject of several convictions. He was imprisoned under the autocrat Hosni Mubarak (1981-2011), his Islamist successor Mohamed Morsi (2012-2013) and the current head of state Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He had been in pre-trial detention for over two years and has spent a total of seven years in prison since 2013.

Added to Cairo’s “terrorist” list

The United States, which has already frozen 10% of its aid because of the repeated violations of human rights it accuses this allied country, expressed its “disappointment” about these sentences. “Journalists, human rights defenders and anyone who wants to exercise their freedom of expression peacefully should be able to do so without risking” retaliation, “said US diplomacy spokesman Ned Price, saying the relations American-Egyptian women would emerge “strengthened” from an improvement on this front in Egypt.

Alaa Abdel Fattah, political activist and computer programmer, was arrested in 2013 after an unauthorized demonstration. He was accused of having organized an “illegal demonstration”, “provoked a riot”, “hit a police officer and stole his radio transmitter”. However, he continued to express himself on social networks, defending in particular the rights of other former detainees, forced to spend their nights behind bars after their release from prison.

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Released under judicial supervision in March 2019, Alaa Abdel Fattah was arrested with his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer in September of the same year. The two men had been added to the Cairo “terrorist” list at the end of 2020. Mohamed Ibrahim, founder of the “Oxygen Egypt” blog, was also arrested in 2019 after posting videos on anti-government protests on social networks, according to Amnesty International.

60,000 prisoners of conscience

Under Egyptian law, the length of pre-trial detention cannot exceed two years, but in practice detainees can stay longer behind bars. In October, a collection of articles by Alaa Abdel Fattah published since 2011 was published under the title “You have not yet been defeated”.

In an editorial published by the New York Times this Saturday, his mother lamented that “the world looked away” after having been “once inspired by the Egyptian revolutionaries”. “His crime, like millions of young people in Egypt and elsewhere, was to believe that another world was possible. And he had the courage to try to make that possible, ”she wrote.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which considers bloggers to be journalists, dismissed the verdict as “unacceptable”. It “shows how far the authorities are prepared to go to punish these journalists for their work,” said Sherif Mansour, of CPJ, who called for their “immediate release”.

Since coming to power, following the dismissal of Mohamed Morsi in the summer of 2013, President Sisi has been accused by international NGOs of carrying out an all-out repression against opponents and human rights defenders. According to them, Egypt has more than 60,000 prisoners of conscience. The government denies and emphasizes maintaining stability in the country. The Egyptian authorities regularly accuse local and international NGOs of benefiting from questionable funding and of acting on the basis of political motives against the interests of Cairo.

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