Egypt's leading activists jailed in dissent crackdown

Political activist and coordinator of the April 6 Movement, Ahmed Maher and activist Ahmed Doma (R) show a T-shirt reading 'Dropping the law on demonstrations' during his trial on Dec. 8, 2013 in Cairo, Egypt.
Mahmoud Khaled

"Down, down with military rule! We are in a state, not in a military camp!" chanted supporters of three leading Egyptian secular activists as their prison terms were delivered.

Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel, charged with assaulting policemen and instigating protests without permission, were each given three year prison terms on Sunday for their part in recent protests against the military backed government.

All three men had played significant parts in the 2011 ousting of longtime Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and after this year's ousting of President Morsi, they had allegedly organized protests against the new regime, which in November passed a law that curbs the right to assembly.

According to the BBC, in November the three men were part of a protest against the law outside the upper house of parliament. The law, passed in November, states a public assembly of more than 10 people must be approved.

Speaking to Reuters about the court's sentences, Heba Morayef, Egypt director with Human Rights Watch said: "It's very significant, it's not the first time we've seen Douma arrested and facing trial ... But we haven't see high profile activists actually sentenced to such a lengthy sentence."