Egypt court upholds jail terms for 3 activists

CAIRO – An Egyptian court on Tuesday upheld a verdict sentencing three activists to three years in prison each for violating the country's controversial anti-protest law, a judicial source has said.

According to the source, who requested anonymity, Egypt's top appellate court upheld three-year jail terms meted out against Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel – two leading members of Egypt's April 6 youth movement – and activist Ahmed Douma.

Defense lawyer Tarek al-Awadi told AA that the ruling was final and could not be challenged.

The three activists were among those who participated in Egypt's 2011 popular uprising, which culminated in the ouster of autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.

In December of 2013, a misdemeanor court sentenced the three activists to three years in jail each for organizing an unauthorized street demonstration.

The ruling was upheld in April of the following year by Egypt's Court of Appeals.

Egypt's protest law has come under fire since it was first introduced in November of 2013.

The controversial legislation, issued by former interim President Adly Mansour, demands that protest organizers submit written notification to the Interior Ministry three days before staging a demonstration.

The law allows the Interior Ministry to deny organizers permission if the planned demonstration is deemed a "threat to security or public safety" or if security conditions are found to be "inappropriate."

The law also allows security forces to use force to disperse unlicensed demonstrators.

According to the law, violators can be fined or imprisoned – penalties that have drawn the ire of many Egyptian politicians and activists who say the legislation curbs freedoms and gives police free rein to quash any expression of popular dissent.

A recent report by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, a local NGO, said more than 41,000 Egyptians had been subject to prosecution since the ouster of Mohamed Morsi – Egypt's first freely elected president – by the army.

The authorities continue to deny the existence of "political" prisoners, insisting that all those now being held face criminal charges.

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