World Briefs: Egypt sentence upsets activists

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CAIRO -- It was a seemingly lenient sentence for charges of burning a political party headquarters a year ago -- one year in jail, suspended for the next three years -- but upon hearing the verdict Sunday, supporters of the defendants were long faced and despondent. They said they interpreted the three-year suspension as an effort to prevent the activists from protesting the government in the near future.

The primary defendants in Sunday's case, Alaa Abd el-Fattah and his sister Mona, had been leading figures in the 2011 protest movement that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. At one point, the government had even dropped the charges against them. But after the military retook control of the country on July 3, the charges were reinstated in what activists here say has been a concerted effort to eliminate political dissent.

The government crackdown has fallen hardest on the Muslim Brotherhood, whose leadership, including former President Mohammed Morsi, is in jail and facing charges. The organization is banned, and journalists face arrest for reporting on the Brotherhood's activities. Three Al-Jazeera English journalists who were arrested in late December on charges that they were leading a terrorist cell were questioned again Sunday.

But the crackdown has also hit the so-called revolutionaries who were instrumental in toppling Mr. Mubarak and who also had backed the military putsch against Mr. Morsi last summer. Now even those who were never Brotherhood supporters face imprisonment on charges aimed to ensure the status quo. Many who remain free fear that they will be rounded up for talking about politics.

Khodorkovsky on Swiss trip

BERLIN -- Former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky traveled to Switzerland on Sunday, ostensibly on a family errand to bring his two sons back to school.

But Mr. Khodorkovsky told Swiss television in an interview that he planned to keep campaigning for the release of political prisoners in Russia. The businessman -- who spent more than a decade in prison on what many in the West considered trumped-up charges -- was pardoned last month by his longtime foe, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

When he was prosecuted in Russia for tax evasion and money-laundering, Russian officials sought to seize about $5 billion linked to Yukos that had been deposited in Switzerland. But Swiss authorities refused to hand over the money, concluding that his prosecution was politically motivated.

Israel migrants protest

JERUSALEM -- In an unusual show of strength by one of the weakest groups in Israeli society, an estimated 10,000 African migrants demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Sunday to protest their treatment by the Israeli government.

As Israel's policies grow more heavy-handed, anxiety and fear of jail, deportation and poverty are driving the migrants to protest more actively.

Guns found in embassy

PRAGUE -- Twelve illegal weapons were found at the Palestinian embassy complex where a possible booby-trapped safe killed Ambassador Jamal al-Jamal, police said Sunday.

Deputy Palestinian Foreign Minister Taysir Jaradat, however, denied the weapons were illegal, telling his Czech counterpart that the guns were either licensed in the embassy or were given as gifts to the ambassador."

-- Compiled from news services

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