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The New Arab

Egypt sentences actor to 8 years for criticising Sisi

Waked is a UN goodwill ambassador and is internationally known for his film roles [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 March, 2019

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An Egyptian actor critical of the country's authoritarian president has been sentenced to eight years in prison for "spreading fake news and insulting state institutions."

An Egyptian actor critical of the country's authoritarian president has been sentenced to eight years in prison for "spreading fake news and insulting state institutions."

Amr Waked, who lives in Spain, announced this week that a military court convicted him in absentia in two separate cases - the latest in a wide-ranging crackdown on dissent in Egypt.

The 45-year-old actor tweeted that he was handed down a three-year sentence in once case and five-year term in the other case.

Waked, who has been residing in Barcelona since October 2017, said he has no knowledge of what the cases against him are about and cannot return to his home country.

He has said that Egyptian authorities have sent him threats. "They told me that if I return to Egypt, nothing good will happen to me," he tweeted.

His lawyer has asked authorities for more details on the verdicts, so he can appeal them.

Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer with a reputation for moral vigilantism and suing celebrities, filed a complaint at a military court against the celebrated actor, accusing him of insulting Egypt's military.

The complaint came days after Waked criticised lawmakers' approval of a disputed 2016 agreement that would transfer two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

Waked is a UN goodwill ambassador and is internationally known for his roles in movies like the 2005 thriller "Syriana" with George Clooney, the 2011 romantic comedy-drama "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen".

Waked has long criticised President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and is opposed to proposed constitutional amendments, which could see him stay in office until 2034.

Egypt under Sisi has waged a massive crackdown on dissent in recent years, imprisoning thousands of people, rolling back freedoms won in the 2011 uprising and silencing almost all dissenting voices.

Sisi led the military overthrow of longtime president Hosni Mubarak's successor, Mohamed Morsi, in 2013 following mass protests against the Islamist leader's rule.

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