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Jan 14, 7:02 AM EST

Prominent Egyptian activist acquitted of illegal protest

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AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty

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CAIRO (AP) -- An appeals court in the Egyptian city of Alexandria has acquitted a prominent activist and rights lawyer of charges of taking part in an illegal demonstration.

Mahienour el-Masry was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison last month over participating last year in a protest against the government's transfer of two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

The 2016 deal between Saudi Arabia and Egypt sparked rare protests in Egypt, which has all but banned demonstrations since late 2013.

El-Masry, 31, is widely known for her activism in labor movements, and on behalf of Syrian and Palestinian refugees living in Egypt. She has been outspoken on the rights of detainees and political prisoners.

The Alexandria court issued its verdict late Saturday.

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