In Egypt, a court today convicted the prominent activist and blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah on charges that he organized an unauthorized protest and "assaulted a policeman." He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The sentence against Alaa Abdel-Fattah is the toughest against any of the secular activists behind the 18-day uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's 29-year reign. It is also the first conviction of a prominent activist since former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took office as president on Sunday.
Jillian York of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
EFF is shocked and dismayed by the 15-year jail term handed down today in absentia to Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah and 24 other co-defendants, on charges of unlawful protest and attacking a police officer. The judgment was not expected to be made until 10am, but proceedings began at 9am.
The ruling against the 25 defendants was made in absentia, despite the fact that several of them were waiting outside to enter the court. According to a report from Mada Masr, Abd El Fattah’s family has stated that they believe the defendants were “purposefully prevented from entering the court in order to issue a ruling in absentia, and to treat them as though they had fled, despite attending all previous court sessions.” The family is demanding a re-trial.