CAIRO (AFP) — Exiled Egyptian human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who also holds US nationality, was sentenced in abstentia on Saturday to two years in prison for defaming Egypt, MENA news agency reported.
Judge Hisham Beshir of Cairo's Al-Khalifa Court sentenced the sociologist and human rights activist, who is currently in the United States, to two years behind bars for "tarnishing Egypt's reputation," Egypt's official news agency said.
He was granted bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (1,890 dollars).
Lawyers Abul Naga al-Mehrezi and Hossam Salim had taken Ibrahim to court and accused him of defaming the country after a series of articles and speeches on citizenship and democracy in which he criticised the Egyptian regime.
A judicial source told AFP that Ibrahim has the right to appeal the decision.
Ibrahim said last month he wanted to return from exile abroad but only after receiving assurances he will not be arrested.
According to the independent daily Al-Masri Al-Youm, Ibrahim had written to the foreign ministry asking for guarantees that he would not be held on arrival.
The 69-year-old went into exile several months ago, citing a climate prejudicial to political opposition and human rights.
A vocal critic of President Hosni Mubarak, Ibrahim was quoted in the Washington Post last year as saying he preferred to remain outside Egypt for fear of being arrested "or worse."
After meeting President George W. Bush in June last year in Prague he was called a "dissident" by the US leader.
Ibrahim, who founded the Ibn Khaldoun Centre for Development Studies, was sentenced in 2001 to seven years for "tarnishing Egypt's reputation," before being freed on appeal after spending 10 months behind bars.
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