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Human rights lawyer sentenced to prison for speaking to media in Egypt

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ZYAD El-Elaimy, a human rights lawyer, former Member of Parliament and one of the leaders of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party was on Tuesday, sentenced to one year imprisonment by the Mokattam Misdemeanour Court in Egypt, over ‘spreading false news.’

El-Elaimy who has been tagged a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, was also charged to pay a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds (around US$1,270) by the court.

According to reports, the politician and human rights lawyer was accused and charged for  “spreading false news with an intent to spread panic among the people and disturbing public peace” during a TV interview with the BBC in 2017.

For granting an interview where he spoke against the ills of the government, EL-Elaimy was arrested and has been detained in prison since June 2019.

“Zyad el-Elaimy has been unlawfully detained since June last year, when he was arrested in relation to his peaceful political activities. He has now been sentenced to a year in prison for daring to give a TV interview to BBC Arabic, in which he spoke about the practices of politically motivated imprisonment, enforced disappearance and torture in Egypt,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said.

It was gathered that El-Elaimy has appealed against the sentence and April 7 has been set for the appeal hearing.

Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities to drop all charges against the politician. According to the global advocacy, he remains in pre-trial detention pending investigations in another case, known as the “Hope case”, where he is accused, along with other politicians, of unfounded “terrorism”-related offences in retaliation for their attempt to found an electoral alliance for the 2020 parliamentary elections.

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Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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