According to a judicial source, an Egyptian court sentenced prominent activist and former member of parliament Zyad Elelaimy to five years in prison on charges of spreading false news on Wednesday.
The three have been detained since 2019 and face separate charges in the Hope coalition case, in which authorities accused them of being part of a group funded by the Muslim Brotherhood to incite revolution and commit violence.
According to colleagues and activists, the arrests were made to prevent the formation of a secular coalition ahead of 2020 parliamentary elections dominated by supporters of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The detentions have become one of Egypt’s most visible human rights violations.
A state security court’s decision on Wednesday cannot be appealed. Along with journalist Hisham Foad and political activist Hossam Moeness, who were sentenced to four years in prison, two other suspects were sentenced to two years, according to a judicial source.
Eight human rights organizations slammed the decision, noting that it came despite Sisi’s recent decision not to renew Egypt’s state of emergency and the government’s publication of a national human rights strategy.
“Today’s ruling confirms that the government’s anti-human rights policies will continue,” the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies and seven other organizations said in a statement.
Since taking office in 2014, former army chief Sisi has presided over a crackdown that has engulfed both liberal opponents and the Islamists whose overthrow he led a year before.
According to human rights organizations, tens of thousands of people have been imprisoned.
Sisi has denied holding political prisoners, and his supporters argue that the measures were necessary to bring Egypt back to normalcy.