Court upholds prison sentence for activist

An Egyptian court upheld on Tuesday a one-year prison sentence for prominent activist Asmaa Mahfouz for assaulting a witness in an ongoing trial over a deadly clash between soldiers and Christians.

Mahfouz must also pay bail and a fine totalling LE2,000 according to the initial sentencing in March this year, state news agency MENA and her lawyers said.

She is in the United States and was unable to attend the sentencing, her lawyers said.

Mahfouz is expected to appeal the sentence after paying bail, MENA said.

The Egyptian rights group, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, condemned the sentencing as a "throwback to politicized sentences against opposition activists."

It said Mahfouz was accused of "beating" the man outside the state prosecutor's office. She denies the charge.

Judicial officials were not immediately available to comment, or to provide further details on the case.

Mahfouz shot to fame when she posted a video on YouTube urging Egyptians to protest against President Hosni Mubarak before he was toppled in February 2011 in a popular uprising.

Since then Mahfouz, whom the European Parliament awarded the Sakharov prize for freedom of thought, has targeted the military rulers who took charge after Mubarak's ouster.

The military had said it would try her for incitement over her writings on the Internet but dropped the case.

She was investigated for involvement in an October clash between Coptic Christian protesters and soldiers that killed more than 25 people, mostly Christians, but no charges were filed.

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