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Cairo appeal court overturns jail sentence for activist Qeshta in Red Sea island protests case

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Saturday 30 Jul 2016
Hamdy Qeshta
Activist Hamdy Qeshta was acquitted Saturday by an appeal court of charges related to protests that took place in April against a deal that put two Red Sea islands into Saudi hands. (Photo: Ahram)
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Activist Hamdy Kamal, AKA Hamdy Qeshta, was acquitted Saturday by an appeal court of charges related to protests that took place in April against a deal that put two Red Sea islands into Saudi hands.

Qeshta, along with nine others, had been sentenced in May by a lower court to three years in prison and a EGP 100,000 (approximately $11,250) fine each on charges of "belonging to a terrorist group that incites to topple the regime, spreading false news, disturbing public peace and security and inciting protests."

Qeshta, who was arrested for taking part in demonstrations against a government decision to transfer islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia, will not be released since he still faces separate criminal charges in a different case.

The Egyptian government’s decision last April to transfer the islands to Saudi Arabia sparked widespread public outcry.

At demonstrations against the deal in Cairo and elsewhere, dozens were arrested and subsequently tried.

Most of those arrested have received suspended jail sentences and hefty fines.

Egypt's government insists the islands belong to Saudi Arabia and that Cairo has merely been administering them temporarily since the 1950s.

Last month, an administrative court "cancelled the signing" of the deal and said the two islands "remain Egyptian."

A higher court started on 3 July to hear the government's appeal against the verdict. 

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