Egyptians protest outside the Saudi embassy in Cairo in April after the… (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA )
CAIRO — An Egyptian human rights lawyer was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison and 300 lashes by a court in Saudi Arabia after being found guilty of smuggling drugs into the kingdom.
Ahmed Gizawy was arrested with his wife on their way to a pilgrimage to Mecca in April, allegedly carrying 20,000 prescription anti-anxiety pills. The Egyptian consulate in the kingdom said it would appeal the ruling, according to Egypt's state news agency.
The court also convicted an Egyptian who was traveling with Gizawy to six years and 400 lashes, the news agency reported. Gizawy’s case sparked an uproar among Egyptian human rights groups, which claimed he was targeted for his vehement criticism of Saudi King Abdullah.
Diplomatic tension between Egypt and Saudi Arabia heightened last year as hundreds of demonstrators in Cairo chanted against the alleged mistreatment of Egyptians in Saudi Arabia. Protesters claimed Gizawy was detained because he filed a lawsuit against King Abdullah over the detainment of hundreds of Egyptians living in Saudi Arabia without being officially charged.
The protests prompted the kingdom to recall its ambassador in Cairo and temporarily shut down its embassy.
In August, an Egyptian designer was also sentenced to 500 lashes and five years in prison after a dispute with a Saudi Arabian princess.
Such cases continue to be another challenge for Islamist Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who hopes to keep friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, which was a close ally of his predecessor, ousted President Hosni
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