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Egypt sentences human rights activists to prison on terrorism charges

CAIRO — Egypt on Sunday sentenced 14 people, including rights activists, to prison terms ranging between five and 15 years on terrorism-related charges in a trial deplored by rights groups as unfair.

The verdicts — the latest mass sentencings in Egypt — were reported by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, one of the country's most prominent human rights groups. The suspects were arrested in 2018 as part of a wide-ranging crackdown by authorities on dissent.

Two activist lawyers — Ezzat Ghoniem of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms and Mohamed Abu Horarira — were sentenced to 15 years in prison each. They were convicted of joining and funding a terrorist group, which is government parlance for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egyptian authorities designated the Islamist group a terrorist organization in 2013, the year the military removed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood, from power after a year of divisive rule.

Abu Horarira's wife, Aisha el-Shater, who is also the daughter of Khairat el-Shater, long seen as the Brotherhood's most powerful leader, was sentenced to 10 years on charges that also included disseminating false news on allegations of rights abuses by security forces.

Huda Abdel-Moneim, another lawyer and activist, was handed a five-year sentence.

The court added a five-year probation period at the end of each sentence of those convicted, which includes a travel ban and an order to regularly report to a police station.

Amnesty International and other rights group have decried the arrest of the 14 and said their trial reflected "gross violations of their right to a fair trial."

Sunday's verdicts are not subject to appeal and only the country's president has the authority to pardon or throw out the sentences.

Rights groups have repeatedly criticized mass sentencings, common over the past years in Egypt in trials related to the Brotherhood or dissent, and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.

Egypt's government has in recent years jailed thousands, mainly Islamists, but also secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled the country's longtime autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

The Associated Press