Egypt court upholds jailing of pro-democracy activists
An Egyptian appeals court has upheld the jailing of three leading figures of the 2011 pro-democracy uprising, tightening a crackdown on secular activists opposed to the army-backed government.
Critics see their case as an attempt to stifle the kind of political street activism common since the uprising that ousted autocrat Hosni Mubarak three years ago, as Egypt prepares for presidential elections next month.
A court handed down three-year sentences to the three liberal activists, Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel, in December for protesting without permission and assaulting the police.
The verdict was the first under a new law that requires police permission for demonstrations. The case stemmed from protests called in defiance of the law. The European Union and the United States had urged Egypt to reconsider the verdict.
Popular leftist politician and presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabahi condemned the sentences and urged Interim President Adly Mansour to grant the activists a presidential pardon. The liberal al-Dostour party made the same request.
The three men appeared in court inside a metal cage wearing blue prison suits and chanting: "Down, down with army rule, our country will always be free!"
They have one final chance to appeal to a higher court but analysts see little hope of the verdict being overturned.