Amr Hamzawy, a professor and former lawmaker, took to Twitter in June to offer his criticism of a case against 43 employees of three U.S.-backed pro-democracy groups that had been charged with receiving illegal foreign financing and plotting to destabilize Egypt.
"Verdict in case of foreign funding of CS shocking, transparency lacking, facts undocumented & politicization evident," he wrote on Twitter, using initials for "civil society."
The rather banal remark landed Hamzawy in court himself. In an Egyptian newspaper op-ed, he said he was paying the price for being a "true liberal," the New York Times reported Monday.
Supporters agreed, saying the military-led government in Egypt is acting to stifle dissent from all quarters. In addition to Hamzawy, several conservatives including deposed president Mohammad Morsi have also been charged with insulting the judiciary.
"It is absurd," said Samer S. Shehata, an expert on Egyptian politics at the University of Oklahoma. "He is a liberal, long-haired, intellectual type, the best of a particular type of intellectual in Egypt, who poses a threat to no one. This is just another example of the government trying to silence all criticism and dissent in Egypt right now, whether it is Islamist or liberal."