AP NEWS

Egypt military court upholds sentence against former auditor

March 3, 2019
FILE -- In this April 16, 2014 file photo, Hesham Genena, then head of Egypt's oversight body, poses for a portrait in front of pictures of his predecessors at his office in Cairo, Egypt. Ali Taha, an Egyptian lawyer, said Sunday, March 3, 2019, that a military appeals court has upheld a five-year sentence against Genena, the country's former auditor for disseminating false news against the military. Genena can still challenge the ruling a final time at Egypt's highest military court of appeals. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian military appeals court on Sunday upheld a five-year sentence against the country’s former auditor for disseminating false news about the military, his lawyer said.

Hesham Genena can still challenge the ruling a final time at Egypt’s highest military court of appeals, added Ali Taha.

Genena was arrested in February last year following incendiary comments in which he claimed that the former chief-of-staff, Sami Annan, was in possession of documents incriminating the country’s leadership. He said the documents were kept abroad. He was sentenced to five years in prison in April for insulting the armed forces.

Annan himself was arrested in January shortly after he announced his intention to challenge President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in last year’s election, which the president won with 97 percent of the vote.

Genena led Egypt’s top watchdog agency until el-Sissi fired him in 2016 following an investigation that concluded he had misled the public on the scale of government corruption. Genena said corruption had cost the country billions of dollars in 2015 alone. He later said he was misquoted.

Genena had long been the target of criticism from pro-government media, well-connected businessmen and senior officials since he was appointed in 2012, but his massive corruption expose sparked a particular furor, with media branding him a traitor and closet supporter of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt under el-Sissi has waged a massive crackdown on dissent since the 2013 overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after mass protests against his one-year divisive rule.

Authorities have since jailed thousands of Islamists as well as several prominent secular activists. Unauthorized protests are banned, and hundreds of websites, including those of independent media and rights groups, have been blocked.

Most critics in the media have also been silenced and freedoms won by the 2011 uprising were rolled back. Authorities have also placed draconian restrictions on demonstrations and the work of rights groups.