Egyptian activists appear in court following two-year detention

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CAIRO (Reuters) - The trial of prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and two others on charges of spreading fake news began on Monday, a judicial source said, following their detention for more than two years.

Abdel Fattah, blogger Mohamed Ibrahim, and lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer appeared before a Cairo misdemeanour court where charges were read, the source said. The next hearing was set for Nov. 1 to allow the prosecution and defence to enter pleas.

The three have been detained since September 2019. Abdel Fattah, a leading activist in the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak after three decades in power, had previously been imprisoned for five years.

Since 2013, when then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted President Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, there has been a far-reaching crackdown on political dissent in Egypt, drawing criticism from human rights groups. Rights groups say tens of thousands of people have been jailed.

Sisi, president since 2014, says security and stability are paramount and denies there are political prisoners in Egypt.

(Reporting by Cairo Bureau; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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