Life sentences for Muslim Brotherhood father and son

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An Egyptian court handed life sentences to Hassan Malik, a leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, his son Hamza and five others after convicting them of terrorism offences.

Charges included leading a terrorist organisation, supporting it financially and taking actions aimed at hurting the economy, based in part on a search of Malik’s home where Muslim Brotherhood documents were found allegedly outlining plots against the state, a judicial source told Reuters.

The source said the documents outlined plans to damage Egypt’s economy by manipulating the value of the Egyptian pound against the dollar. They said the documents described plans to attack armed forces, police and tourists and incited the use of violence to overthrow government.

The Brotherhood, Egypt’s main Islamist movement for almost a century, denies allegations of terrorism, saying it seeks political change by peaceful means.

Businessman Malik was in court for the trial, dressed in white prison garb, while his son Hamza and the other Brotherhood defendants were tried in absentia. Malik earlier denied the charges in court.

Tuesday’s ruling can be appealed within two months.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organisation in 2014, a year after the military, then commanded by Sisi, toppled Mohamed Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president and a senior Brotherhood figure, following mass protests.

Rights activists say Sisi has overseen a relentless clampdown on dissent in Egypt since 2014. The crackdown first targeted Islamists, including Brotherhood members, and spread to political dissidents, human rights lawyers, journalists and others, according to Human Rights Watch.

At least 60,000 people have been jailed on political grounds, according to an HRW estimate.

This week’s verdict came as US President Donald Trump’s administration, a security ally of Sisi, moved to designate the Brotherhood a foreign terrorist organisation, which would bring sanctions against the veteran Islamist movement.

Sisi denied holding political prisoners and backers say security measures are necessary to stabilise Egypt after its 2011 popular uprising.

In a separate case, 34 people were sentenced to life in prison on charges including planning Islamist militant attacks in Giza and Alexandria.