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Egypt upholds 5-year jail sentence for leading activist

Egypt’s Court of Cassation has upheld a five-year jail term for Alaa Abdel Fattah, a prominent activist in the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The court on Wednesday upheld the jail sentence against the 35-year-old but dropped an accompanying term of hard labor.

It also put the activist, an opponent of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, on probation for five years after serving his jail sentence. The Wednesday ruling is final and cannot be appealed.

Abdel Fattah, who has already served three and a half years in prison, was jailed for holding a protest without permission in November 2013 outside the parliament in breach of a law that rights groups say effectively bans demonstrations.

He was arrested in February 2014 and had initially been sentenced to 15 years in prison but a court ordered a retrial and he later received a five-year jail sentence.

Egyptian rights groups have slammed the trial, saying it has been “full of violations of the law and without procedural safeguards.”

Since Sisi came to power as president, which occurred after the ouster of the first democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi in a coup, Egyptian authorities have begun a clampdown on the opposition voices and dissident journalists, in most cases accusing them of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi.

International rights groups have repeatedly blasted the government of Sisi for the heavy-handed crackdown.

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