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Egyptian Activist to Appear in Court Monday, Say Lawyer, Family


FILE - Egyptian activist and blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah gives an interview at his home in Cairo, Egypt, May 17, 2019.

Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah is to appear in court on Monday after spending more than two years in pre-trial detention, a lawyer and family members said.

Abdel-Fattah, his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer and blogger Mohamed Ibrahim will be tried in a State Security court whose verdicts cannot be appealed, lawyer Khaled Ali said Saturday on social media.

Abdel-Fattah's mother, Leila Soueif, said her son had been questioned in September about "spreading false news.”

"We do not know exactly what the accusations are because the lawyers haven't been officially notified yet," she told AFP.

His sister Mona Seif visited him Saturday at Cairo's notorious Tora prison, where he told her the news, Soueif said.

Abdel-Fattah was a prominent figure in Egypt's 2011 uprising against autocratic President Hosni Mubarak and had already spent time in jail before his 2019 arrest.

He and lawyer Baqer were imprisoned after rare, small-scale protests in September that year against the government of current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

They were both added to Cairo's "terror" list late last year, a move involving a travel ban and an assets freeze.

Ibrahim, founder of the "Oxygen Egypt" blog, was arrested in September 2019 for posting protest-related videos, according to Amnesty International.

El-Sissi, a former army chief, took power in 2014 and has launched a sweeping crackdown on dissent, with rights groups estimating that Egypt holds about 60,000 political prisoners.

Pre-trial detention can last up to two years under Egyptian law, but detainees are often kept waiting behind bars for longer.

Abdel-Fattah's sister said he was "behaving as if he was going to die in prison."

"I have never seen my brother in such a state, he is extremely angry, exhausted and jaded," Seif wrote on Twitter.

Soueif said the development came against the backdrop of an "international campaign to get rid of unlimited preventive detention.”

She said her son had spent a total of seven years in prison.

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