Egypt rejects US criticism of prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah's jailing

Egypt rejects US criticism of prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah's jailing
2 min read
21 December, 2021
Egypt's foreign ministry rejected the US State Department’s criticism of the five-year sentence given to prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah
Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah was handed a five-year prison sentence on Monday [Getty]

CAIRO - Egypt's foreign ministry rejected on Tuesday the US' criticism of the jailing of prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah, local media outlets reported.

"It is not appropriate at all to comment on judicial verdicts," an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson told Egypt's official Middle East News Agency.

"Such judicial matters shouldn't be tackled within political frames or linked to the track of relations between the two countries [Egypt and the US]," added the spokesperson, who was not named.

US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said Monday that Washington was "disappointed" by an Egyptian court's sentencing of Alaa Abdel-Fattah to five years in prison.

US officials have raised human rights issues with their Egyptian counterparts and have told Cairo that US-Egypt ties can be improved if there is progress on human rights, Price said.

Abdel-Fattah, his lawyer Mohamed Al-Baqer, and blogger Mohamed Ibrahim, were convicted of "broadcasting false news and inciting protest" on Monday. Al-Baqer and Ibrahim were given four-year jail terms.

The verdicts cannot be appealed, and their pre-trial detention time will not be deducted from their sentences because they were handed down by an emergency state security court.

Abdel-Fattah, a computer programmer, blogger and high-profile activist, was a leading figure in the 2011 revolution, mobilising young people in the uprising that unseated autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Abdel-Fattah was arrested in the wake of rare night-time protests prompted by an exiled construction contractor who called for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to be removed from power for corruption. 

He had been in pre-trial detention since September 2019. Baqer and Ibrahim were also detained in a massive crackdown that followed the protests.

Abdel-Fattah has spent most of the past decade in jail at Tora, one of the country's most notorious prisons.

On Saturday, Germany voiced concern over the three dissidents' fate, calling for a "fair trial" and their release.

Egypt's foreign ministry lambasted the German government, described Berlin's comments as "a blatant and unjustified meddling in Egyptian internal affairs".