Blogger Alber Saber was released Monday after being kept in prison for six days after paying bail last week. His lawyers said this was arbitrary detention by the court.
Al-Marg Misdemeanour Court sentenced Saber to three years in prison on charges of “contempt of the Muslim and Christian religions” after prosecutors accused him of starting Facebook pages that offend both God and the Muslim and Christian religions.
The prosecution added that the “defendant believes humanity to be a product of nature” and that he spread his “extremist views” over social media with the intent of causing sectarian strife.
The court set EGP 1,000 in bail in addition to the prison sentence. Saber’s lawyers paid the bond, yet he was detained for a further six days.
“Alber was unfairly and without cause detained for six days,” said Ahmed Ezzat, member of Saber’s defence team and of the legal division of the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.
Mohamed Farouk Saad, another lawyer on Saber’s defence team and member of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said he had expected the three-year sentence due to evident police and prosecution bias against Saber since the case started.
The number of contempt of religion charges have been on the rise since President Mohamed Morsy’s took power, with human rights organisations saying they disproportionately target Coptic Christians.
Saber’s lawyers are appealing the sentence and the appeal date is set for 26 January.