CAIRO -- The trials of three Egyptian activists and a rights lawyer, who have been held in prison for over two years on a number of charges, were postponed Monday, their lawyer said.
Activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mohamed Ibrahim and Yahia Hussein Abdel-Hadi and lawyer Mohammed el-Baker appeared before judges of the Emergency State Security Court in Cairo, according to lawyer Khalid Ali. They will be tried in two separate proceedings in the same courtroom.
The trial of Abdel-Fattah, Ibrahim and el-Baker was postponed until Nov. 1, while Abdel-Hadi’s was postponed to Oct. 25, according to Ali. The judges postponed proceedings to allow defense lawyers time to review trial-related documents, he said.
The four face charges ranging from disseminating false news and misuse of social media platforms to joining a terrorist group, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt designated as a terrorist group in 2013.
Egypt’s government has in recent years waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent, jailing thousands of people, mainly Islamists but also secular activists involved in the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Abdel-Fattah and Ibrahim, who is known as Mohamed Oxygen, were arrested late in 2019 while on probation amid a sweeping security clampdown following small but rare anti-government protests. El-Baker was arrested while attending a questioning session of Abdel-Fattah by prosecutors in September 2019.
Abdel-Hadi is a co-founder of the Civil Democratic Movement, a coalition of liberal and left-leaning parties opposing the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. He was arrested in January 2019 ahead of the vote on constitutional amendments that enabled el-Sissi to run for two more four-year terms.
Activist Abdel-Fattah, who rose to prominence following the 2011 uprising, has been detained several times under different governments for lobbying for civil rights on social media and in public. An influential blogger, he hails from a family of political activists, lawyers and writers. His late father was one of Egypt’s most tireless rights lawyers and his two sisters are also political activists. His aunt is award-winning novelist Ahdaf Soueif.
In recent weeks, Abdel-Fattah's family and his lawyers had accused prison authorities in Tora prison complex in Cairo of torturing him and denying him basic legal rights. They called for prosecutors to investigate the claims.
In March, an Egyptian court sentenced Sanaa Seif, Abdel-Fattah’s youngest sister, to 18 months in jail after finding her guilty of spreading false news about the handling of COVID-19 outbreaks in Egyptian prisons.
Egyptian lawmakers and other public figures have repeatedly urged authorities to release activists and rights advocates who have been detained in recent years over alleged politically motivated charges.