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The New Arab

Five year social media ban for Egyptian rights lawyer

Ramadan could not attend the court session for health reasons [Facebook]

Date of publication: 13 April, 2017

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Rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan was sentenced to 10 years in prison and five years house arrest, as well as a five year social media ban for 'insulting the president'.

An Alexandria court sentenced a rights lawyer to 10 years in prison on charges of "insulting the president, misusing social media, and inciting violence".

Mohamed Ramadan, who could not attend the court session for health reasons, was also ordered to remain under house arrest for five years and banned from using social media for the same period after completion of his prison sentence.

"I never sought to insult the President," Ramadan said in a Facebook post commenting on the verdict, "but I fought to bring down his regime, dissolve his government, and hold accountable all his criminal statesmen to achieve justice for an oppressed people."

"The poor people of this country, who are filling prisons, show their discontent and hate for the police every day, while asserting that media outlets are lying in their support for Sisi's government," he added.

"I am certain that your state will not even last 10 years, but our lives and cause will surpass that."

In another post, Ramadan jokingly said his wife would be happy with the house arrest order, as most of their fights revolve around him being away all the time.

I am certain that your state will not even last 10 years, but our lives and cause will surpass that
- Mohamed Ramadan

The verdict, which is subject to appeal, was based on article 94 of the anti-terror law, which allows the court to impose probational measures besides the prison sentence, such as a communications ban, in terrorism cases.

His lawyer, Mahienour al-Masry, told Egyptian website Mada Masr that the court issued its ruling in absentia without hearing his defence team's request to adjourn the case.

Ramadan was detained in December 2016 while working on paperwork related to his work as a lawyer at the Montazah police station in Alexandria.

He was charged with insulting the National Security apparatus and was later released and referred to trial.

Lawyers representing Ramadan at the time said the charges were based on posts he published on his Facebook account.

In November, police forces raided his home and arrested his mother and sister after they could not find him. They were released later after their neighbours and other residents protested their arrest.

Social activists, rights advocates, and journalists are routinely detained by authorities, while headquarters deemed to be critical of the government are shut down.

Months after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi orchestrated his coup against Egypt's first democratically elected government, he launched a crackdown on human rights organisations in Egypt, freezing the financial assets of NGOs, including many affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, who were outlawed in Egypt in September 2013.

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