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Egypt court acquits Muslim Brotherhood leader of insulting judiciary

[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Wednesday ruled that a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood [party website; JURIST news archive] was not guilty of insulting the judiciary in comments he made to the press. Egypt's government charged Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahdi Akef [Middle East Monitor profile] with insulting the judiciary after he accused the judicial branch of corruption [AP report] in an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper. Akef's arrest is part of a larger crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood following the ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Akef will not be released following his acquittal, as he also faces charges of inciting violence.

Political conflict in Egypt has been ongoing since the 2011 revolution [JURIST backgrounder], most recently between supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the former government of Morsi, and supporters of the new government in place since Morsi's ouster [JURIST report]. Earlier this month an Egyptian court denied bail [JURIST report] for three Al Jazeera [media website] journalists being imprisoned on charges of false reporting. Last month Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Egypt [JURIST report] to release the three Al Jazeera journalists, calling the continued detention "vindictive." In February an Egyptian court acquitted [JURIST report] an Al Jazeera television cameraman and 61 others accused of participating in demonstrations in Cairo last July. In January Egyptian prosecutors charged [JURIST report] 20 Al Jazeera journalists, including Greste, Fahmy and Mohamed, with joining or conspiring with a terrorist group and broadcasting false images.

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