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Oct 2, 12:06 PM EDT

Top Egyptian activist sentenced to month in prison


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CAIRO (AP) -- A prominent Egyptian activist who came to fame during the country's 2011 uprising was sentenced to one month in prison Thursday on charges of insulting the police, though he said he didn't know about the hearing.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah's sentencing came as senior military officials in Egypt said soldiers killed a top militant in the Sinai Peninsula amid clashes.

A court official did not offer specifics on how Abdel-Fattah insulted the police, though he said the charges stem from a complaint filed by prison authorities while he was held pending trial in a separate case. The official said an appeal over Abdel-Fattah's sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 16.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

On Facebook, Abdel-Fattah said he had not been aware of the new case against him. The activist is free on bail pending a retrial over his 15-year prison sentence for violating a widely criticized law that bans protests without prior government approval.

Abdel-Fattah is a powerful voice for civil rights in Egypt and has spent time in prison under four different Egyptian governments. He is a member of one of Egypt's most prominent activist families and his sister, Sanaa, is currently being held pending her own trial over charges of violating the protest law.

Meanwhile, military officials said soldiers in the restive Sinai killed Mohammed Abu Sheeta, a leader of the al-Qaida-inspired group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, during clashes Thursday in the town of Rafah, which borders the Gaza Strip and Israel. Sheeta had led the abduction of Egyptian soldiers to press the government to release his detained brother, officials said.

The officials also said soldiers discovered an underground field hospital and a store packed with explosives. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for several deadly suicide bombings in Egypt over the past year.

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