Egypt sentences prominent dissident to 6-Month jail term, lawyer says

An Egyptian court has issued a six-month prison sentence for liberal opposition figure Hisham Kassem, as confirmed by his lawyer and political movement.

Kassem has been additionally fined 20,000 pounds (approximately $650) after being convicted of defaming a former minister and “contempt of officials”, as reported by Gameela Ismail, a member of his Free Current liberal opposition movement, on X (formerly Twitter).

His attorney, Nasser Amin, announced on Facebook that they intend to appeal the verdict, with a court hearing scheduled for October 7th.

Earlier this month, Kassem’s supporters stated that he had initiated a hunger strike following the commencement of his trial but ended it a few days ago.

He was initially summoned after a former minister filed a complaint, alleging that he had shared online articles insinuating that the minister had misappropriated funds.

Following his questioning at a police station, the opposition activist was subsequently charged with “contempt” by law enforcement officers. He has been in custody since August 20th.

Kassem’s Free Current coalition, established in June through collaboration among opposition parties, promotes economic liberalization and urges an end to the military’s extensive control over the Egyptian economy.

Amnesty International, headquartered in London, issued a call on Thursday urging Egyptian authorities to promptly release Kassem, asserting that his detention has been arbitrary.

“The prosecution of Hisham Kassem for simply posting critical messages online is a signal that the Egyptian authorities’ relentless campaign to silence peaceful critics and punish dissent… is continuing in full force,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s research and advocacy director in the region.

Human rights organizations estimate that Egypt currently detains approximately 60,000 political prisoners.

Although nearly 1,000 individuals have been released in the past year, non-governmental organizations report that nearly three times that number have been detained during the same timeframe.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is widely anticipated to declare his candidacy for next year’s election, even though he has not made an official announcement yet.

Former army chief Sisi was elected in 2014, a year after he spearheaded the military’s removal of the elected Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi.

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