CAIRO: A number of participants in a solidarity protest demanding the abolishment of the 2013 Protest Law were attacked and detained by security forces while they were leaving a pre-protest gathering at the Press Syndicate Thursday evening around 8 p.m, Youm7 reported.
A number of human rights and detainee advocate groups announced a solidarity conference at 6 p.m. to condemn the 15-year sentence handed down Wednesday to Activist Alaa Abdel Fatah and 24 others for having violated the 2013 Protest Law and demonstrating outside the Shura Council in November 2013 against military trials for civilians.
Thursday’s protest was scheduled by a number of political movements to start after the end of the conference at 7 p.m., in solidarity with the Shura Council prisoners.
On Wednesday, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Abdel Fatah and 24 codefendants in absentia to 15 years in prison, as well as fining each of them 100,000 EGP ($14,000).
The 2013 Protest Law, issued in November 2013, bans any political demonstration that does not have official permission. Organizers must request from security forces a license days before any planned gathering.
In a number of press statements issued Wednesday after the release of the verdict, local and international human rights organizations condemned the verdict as an affront to free speech and a sign of a crackdown on critical voices.
The Freedom for The Brave Campaign, one of the coordinating groups for Thursday’s events, said on its Facebook page that, “Protesters are now besieged inside the Press Syndicate and cannot go out due to the presence of an ambush outside that detains anyone in the area.”
In a tweet, Abdel Fatah’s sister, activist Mona Seif said, “They sent us investigative [forces] and thugs at the [press] syndicate, youths were heavily assaulted.”
One of the defendants’ lawyers, Mohamed Abdel Aziz, told The Cairo Post that there were deficiencies in Wednesday’s verdict. “The Judge issued the verdict in absentia, even though the defendants have been waiting outside the court since early in the morning and were not told that their trial had begun,” he said.
Additional Reporting Mostafa Abdel Tawab and Sara Salah