Court imprisons the former Egyptian presidential candidate for 15 years

The chairman of the Masr El Kaweya (strong Egypt) party, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, speaks at a press conference in Cairo on February 4, 2015. The party announced Wednesday that it will boycott the upcoming long-awaited parliamentary elections. (Reuters / Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

An Egyptian court sentenced former presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and several prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures banned on Sunday to long prison terms on charges of plotting to overthrow the state.

Aboul Fotouh, who is in his 70s and according to his family suffers from various medical conditions, was sentenced to 15 years in prison, subject to appeal, the court ruling said.

Human rights groups say thousands of politicians, activists and journalists are detained in Egypt after unfair trials or without a legal basis.

Aboul Fotouh left the Muslim Brotherhood in 2011 after disagreements over the role of religion in politics and founded the more centrist party Strong Egypt, launching an independent bid for the presidency in 2012.

The Interior Ministry later accused him of meeting with Brotherhood leaders to stir up unrest, which he denied.

He was arrested in February 2018 after giving harshly critical interviews of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a month before Sisi’s re-election.

Other convicts on Sunday include Aboul Fotouh’s deputy Mohamed al-Qassas, who received a 10-year sentence, Mahmoud Ezzat, the former interim leader of the Brotherhood detained in Cairo in 2020, who received 15 years, and Ibrahim Mounir, a Brotherhood leader living in exile, sentenced to life imprisonment.

Egypt banned the Brotherhood after Sisi, then army chief, led the overthrow of democratically elected Brotherhood president Mohamed Mursi following mass protests in 2013.

The authorities accuse the Brotherhood of promoting militancy and subversion, accusations that it strongly denies.

Mursi died after collapsing in a prison courtroom in 2019, while other leaders of the group were jailed or fled the country due to extensive crackdowns on political dissent extended to liberal and Islamist critics.

—Reportage of Haithem Ahmed; Written by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Hugh Lawson