Egyptian activist found guilty after critical election tweet

·2 min read
Amnesty International last week urged Egyptian authorities to halt their ‘relentless persecution' of Bahgat (AP)
Amnesty International last week urged Egyptian authorities to halt their ‘relentless persecution' of Bahgat (AP)

An Egyptian human rights activist has been found guilty of insulting a judicial election commission in a tweet he posted last year following a national vote.

The misdemeanour court in the capital of Cairo fined Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal rights, 10,000 Egyptian pounds (around £480), his group said on Monday.

In July, Bahgat was ordered to stand trial on charges he insulted Egypt's election authority, spread false news alleging electoral fraud, and used social media to commit crimes.

His indictment was based on a 2020 tweet in which he blamed the election authority's chairman for allegedly mishandling the parliamentary vote held that year.

The US State Department condemned Bahgat's trial and detention at the time.

The Egyptian government has in recent years waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of people, mainly Islamists, but also secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Since 2016, Bahgat has been banned from traveling abroad and has had his personal assets frozen in connection with a separate, decade-long criminal investigation. In that probe he and many other activists have been accused of receiving foreign funding.

Last week, leading international rights group Amnesty International urged Egyptian authorities to halt their "relentless persecution" of Bahgat.

"These endless legal proceedings look like a clear reprisal against Bahgat's storied legacy of defending human rights," the group said in a statement.

Bahgat's conviction came less than two weeks after a state security emergency court sentenced Zyad el-Elaimy, a prominent human rights lawyer and former lawmaker, to five years in prison. He had been convicted of conspiring to commit crimes with an outlawed group, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has banned as a terrorist organization.

The same court also sentenced journalists Hossam Monis and Hisham Fouad to four years in prison on the same charges.

AP

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