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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Egypt jails activist after retrial
Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Campaigners condemned the case as politically motivated
A prominent civil rights activist in Egypt has been sentenced to seven years in prison after a retrial on charges of tarnishing the country's image abroad and other offences.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim - who holds US and Egyptian citizenship - was first found guilty last year and given a seven-year jail term.

However, an appeals court ordered a retrial after the decision was heavily criticised internationally.

The rule of law died today in Egypt

Wife Barbara

Human rights groups have condemned the case against Ibrahim - an outspoken civil rights and democracy activist - as politically motivated.

A spokesman at the British embassy in Cairo expressed shock at Monday's verdict, saying a reduced sentence had been expected.

Vow to fight on

Saad Eddin Ibrahim - a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo - was accused of defaming Egypt's reputation after a documentary, monitoring elections two years ago, suggested voter participation was a good way of preventing fraud.

The film was never broadcast.

The charges for which he was sentenced to jail included embezzlement and receiving foreign funds without authorisation.

He served eight months in jail after the state security court sentenced him to seven years in jail in May 2001, sparking protests in the US and Europe.

Ibrahim, who is 63, listened to the verdict of the retrial on Monday without visible reaction, the Associated Press news agency said.

However, he told AP he would appeal again against the sentence and was "determined to fight on for freedom and democracy and pay whatever it takes".

His wife, Barbara, said it was "the saddest day for Egypt that I have seen in the 27 years I have lived in this country".

"The rule of law died today in Egypt," she commented.

Ibrahim and four co-defendants who were also sentenced to prison at the retrial were handcuffed and taken immediately to a courthouse jail.

The case has been condemned by human rights groups in Egypt and abroad.

They say it was aimed at limiting political debate in Egypt.

See also:

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Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.


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