Activist jailed for three years for asking judge if he used Facebook

A prominent Egyptian activist has been jailed for three years for asking a judge if he had a Facebook account.

Pro-democracy protester Ahmed Douma, 29, was sentenced for contempt of court after a tense exchange with judge Mohamed Nagi Shehata in Cairo criminal court over alleged political bias.

Some reports claim Douma, 29, was actually sentenced to three years hard labour.

According to lawyer Sameh Samir, Douma accused Shehata - who has presided over recent high-profile trials of Muslim Brotherhood members - of being influenced by the government of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Shehata had allegedly made derogatory remarks about protesters from the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak on Facebook, but when Douma asked him if he had a Facebook account, the judge said he did not, and that only people like the defendant and his friends would use the site. He then sentenced him for contempt of court.

Douma, who joined demonstrations against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and later the military, is among 269 defendants on trial over an alleged attack upon the Egyptian government cabinet building and security forces in 2011 during the Egyptian revolution.

Shehata is the same judge who sentenced 185 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death over an attack on a police station in which 12 officers died.

He also sentenced three Al Jazeera journalists to between seven and ten years in jail for aiding terrorists and endangering national security.

Meanwhile, Mubarak, now aged 86, was recently cleared by a separate court over charges related to the death of protesters in 2011 after a court said it did not have jurisdiction over what it judged to be politically motivated charges.

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