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New trial begins for leading figure of 2011 Egyptian revolution

Alaa Abdel-Fattah, his lawyer and another blogger appear in court on charges of ‘broadcasting false news,’ after being arrested in wake of rare anti-Sissi protests

Egypt’s most prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah during a conference held at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, on September 22, 2014. (AP/ Nariman el-Mofty)
Egypt’s most prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah during a conference held at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, on September 22, 2014. (AP/ Nariman el-Mofty)

CAIRO — A leading figure in Egypt’s 2011 revolution, blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, appeared in court Monday along with two other co-defendants at the start of a new trial, his defense team said.

Abdel-Fattah, his lawyer Mohamed al-Baqer and another blogger, Mohamed Ibrahim, face charges of “broadcasting false news” in their trial before the State Security Misdemeanors Court in Cairo.

Rulings in the exceptional courts are final and cannot be appealed.

The next hearing in the case was set for November 1, their lawyer Khaled Ali told AFP.

Abdel-Fattah, a computer programmer and prominent figure in the uprising that toppled former autocrat Hosni Mubarak, has been in pre-trial detention since September 2019.

He was arrested in the wake of rare, nighttime protests prompted by an exiled construction contractor calling for the removal of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi on claims of corruption.

His lawyer, Baqer, and Ibrahim, also known as “Oxygen,” were also detained in a massive crackdown.

Abdel-Fattah has spent most of the past decade in jail.

Egyptian protesters shout slogans as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo’s downtown on September 20, 2019. (Stringer/AFP)

Rights groups say there are some 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt facing brutal unhygienic conditions and overcrowded cells.

In a 2019 interview with 60 Minutes on CBS, Sissi said there were no political prisoners in Egypt.

The former army chief became president in 2014 after leading the military ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi a year earlier.

He has since overseen a sweeping crackdown on dissent.

Those jailed for criticizing the political status quo have included academics, journalists, lawyers, activists, comedians, Islamists, presidential candidates, and MPs.

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