A criminal court in Egypt has sentenced a former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh to 15 years in prison with hard labour.
Fotouh, 70, was convicted along with Mahmoud Ezzat, an interim leader of the proscribed Muslim Brotherhood group, of disseminating fake news and joining a terrorist group, both of which are blanket charges.
The former Presidential candidate was apprehended upon his return from Britain in 2018.
He gave several media interviews in London during which he criticised President Abdul Fattah al-rule.
The defendants have the right to appeal their sentences.
According to the court ruling, Aboul Fotouh, 70, who suffers from a number of medical conditions, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, subject to appeal.
Mohamed al-Qassas, the deputy leader of Aboul Fotouh’s Strong Egypt party, was sentenced to ten years in prison.
Mahmoud Ezzat, the Brotherhood’s former supreme guide, received a 15-year sentence as well. He is already serving multiple life sentences on other charges.
Rights groups in Egypt have repeatedly condemned such mass sentencings and urged authorities to ensure fair trials.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, among others, claim that the arrests and trials of Aboul Fotouh and el-Kassas are part of a government crackdown on dissent that has targeted not only political opponents but also pro-democracy activists, journalists, and online critics.
Aboul Fotouh is a former senior Brotherhood leader who was expelled from the organisation in 2011 after deciding to run for president of Egypt. He and el-Kassas were arrested in February 2018 after criticizing President Abdel Fattah El-government.
Moaz el-Sharqawi was sentenced to ten years in prison in Cairo on similar charges, including membership in an illegal group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt designated as a “terrorist” organisation in 2013.
Egypt outlawed the Brotherhood after Sisi, then the army chief, led the overthrow of democratically elected Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi in 2013 following mass protests.
Morsi died in a prison courtroom in 2019, while other leaders of the group have been imprisoned or fled the country as a result of a broad crackdown on political dissent that has included both liberal and critics.
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