An Egyptian court has sentenced former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and several prominent figures from the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood to lengthy jail terms on Sunday for “spreading false news” and plotting to overthrow the state, reports Agence France-Presse and the Reuters news agency.
Aboul Fotouh, 70, who suffers from several medical conditions according to his family, was sentenced to 15 years in prison subject to appeal, the court ruling said on Sunday.
Mohamed al-Qassas, the deputy head of Aboul Fotouh’s Strong Egypt party, received a 10-year sentence.
Also receiving a 15-year sentence was the Brotherhood’s former supreme guide Mahmoud Ezzat, who is already serving multiple life sentences on other charges.
Rights groups have repeatedly criticised such mass sentencings in Egypt and called on authorities to ensure fair trials.
The groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, say the arrests and trials of the likes of Aboul Fotouh and el-Kassas are part of a government crackdown on dissent that targeted not only Islamist political opponents but also pro-democracy activists, journalists, and online critics.
Aboul Fotouh is a former senior Brotherhood leader who was sacked from the group in 2011 when he decided to run in Egypt’s presidential elections. He and el-Kassas were detained in February 2018 after voicing harsh criticism of President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi’s government.
The court in Cairo also sentenced Moaz el-Sharqawi to 10 years in prison on similar charges, including membership in an outlawed group, the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt designated as a “terrorist” organisation in 2013.
Egypt banned the Brotherhood after Sisi, then army chief, led the overthrow of democratically-elected Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi following mass protests in 2013.
Morsi died after collapsing in a prison courtroom in 2019, while other leaders of the group have been jailed or left the country as a result of a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent that extended to liberal as well as Islamist critics.