Egypt court sentences pro-democracy activist to four years

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Monday sentenced a pro-democracy activist to four years in prison for disseminating false news, a defense lawyer said.

The court of misdemeanors in Cairo convicted Yahia Hussein Abdel-Hadi, a co-founder of the Civil Democratic Movement, an opposition coalition of liberal and left-leaning parties, of “deliberately disseminating false news inside and outside” Egypt, according to lawyer Khalid Ali.

Similar accusations have often been used against those critical of the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. Many activists have languished in jail for years, often without trials, over the same allegations.

Monday’s verdict can be appealed to a higher court.

Abdel-Hadi was arrested in January 2019 ahead of a vote on controversial constitutional amendments that extended el-Sissi’s second four-year term to six years and allowed him to run for another six-year term after its conclusion. It also gave broader powers to the military. The changes mean the president could remain in power until 2030.

El-Sissi was elected president in 2014 and re-elected in 2018 after all potentially serious challengers were either jailed or pressured to exit the race.

The government has in recent years waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of people, mainly Islamists but also secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was in power for almost 30 years

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