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UN demands release of three Egyptian pro-democracy activists

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The United Nations on Tuesday demanded the release of three Egyptian activists jailed for three years for organising an unauthorised protest, a spokeswoman for the UN Human Rights Office said.

The convictions on Sunday are "of great concern", Ravina Shamdasani said, calling for the "immediate and unconditional release of all prisoners detained solely in connection with peaceful protests, unless the authorities have solid evidence (of) recognisable criminal offences."

The convictions of Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel were the first against pro-democracy protesters -- as opposed to Islamists -- since the July 3 overthrow of president Mohamed Morsi, whose Islamist supporters have borne the brunt of a deadly crackdown.

"Participation in peaceful protests and criticising the government should not be grounds for detention or prosecution," Shamdasani added in a statement.

The statement said "dozens of individuals, including students, have been arbitrarily detained and some convicted following what appears to be the exercise of their legitimate rights to peaceful assembly and expression" in Egypt.

The verdict was seen as a move by the military-installed government to broaden the crackdown on dissent.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131224/un-demands-release-three-egyptian-pro-democracy-activists-0