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US urges Egypt to quickly complete its review of the demonstration law

Twenty-three activists were found guilty on Sunday of violating the protest law as well as stirring chaos, illegal assembly, vandalism and possessing arms or fireworks

Ahram Online, Tuesday 28 Oct 2014
Alaa and Sanaa Abdel-Fattah
In this Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 file photo, surrounded by plainclothes policemen, prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel-Fattah, left, with his sister Sanaa Seif, speaks to the crowd after attending their father's funeral in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)
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The United States is "deeply troubled" by the sentencing of 23 Egyptian activists to three-years in prison for violating the protest law, US State Department spokesman said in a Monday presser.

Twenty-three activists were found guilty on Sunday of violating the protest law as well as stirring chaos, illegal assembly, vandalism and possessing arms or fireworks.

Spokesperson Jen Psaki described the sentences as "harsh" and said US's concern also includes Activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah who was detained, along with 23 others, on Monday after a retrial for violating protest law.  

"We urge Egypt’s leadership to quickly complete its review of the demonstration law and to release an amended version that will enable full freedom of expression and association," Psaki added.

Although Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) previously said that they have been asked to participate in the amendment of the protest law; a cabinet spokesperson said the law will not be amended.

Among the 23 activists are Sanaa Seif, sister of activist and blogger Abdel-Fattah, rights lawyer Yara Sallam, photojournalist Abdel-Rahman Mohamed of Al-Badil news website and photographer Rania El-Sheikh.

The convicted have also been fined LE10,000 (approximately $1,390) each and ordered to be placed under police surveillance for three years after serving jail time.

Dozens of detainees, activists and relatives of the defendants joined hunger strikes in recent weeks to demand the release of prisoners and call for an end to the protest law.

Since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and the clashes between his supporters and the police that followed, authorities have mounted a harsh crackdown on Islamists in which thousands have been jailed.

The crackdown has also extended to several youth activists after the protest law was passed late last year, heightening fears of the future of political dissent in Egypt.

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