Dec. 22 - Three of Egypt's leading activists in its secular protest movement were sentenced to three years and hefty fines for inciting unlawful protests. Mana Rabiee reports.
Outside these Cairo prison gates, a mother reacts to news she didn't want to hear. Her son, Ahmed Maher, has been sentenced to three years. Maher and two others from Egypt's secular activist movement were charged with inciting unlawful protests and assaulting policeman. Together, the three men are symbols of Egypt's 2011 uprising and youth protest movement. (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) UNNAMED MOTHER OF ACTIVIST AHMED MAHER, SAYING: "He is a man who fights for the rights of the people, for bread, freedom and social justice. That is all he is responsible for. So why should he be imprisoned?" Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Doma and Mohamed Adel also received hefty fines equivalent to 7,200 U.S. dollars each. Their lawyer Waleed Abdel Raouf accused the army-backed government of using their trail to silence dissent. (SOUNDBITE)(Arabic) DEFENSE LAWYER, WALEED ABDEL RAOUF, SAYING: "The verdict is entirely political. They want to say to all of the Egyptian youth: "None of you should go out and protest or you will be imprisoned and get a 50,000 pound fine." Activists say Egyptian authorities have expanded their crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood opposition to now include members of the secular protest movement. That movement harnessed social media and touched off unprecedented street demonstrations; protests that ended Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.