A military court in Egypt has sentenced 26 army officers to jail, after being convicted on charges that included plotting for a military coup.
The officers, four of whom are retired colonels, were given sentences ranging from 10 to 25 years.
According to BBC Arabic, which broke the news on Sunday, other charges include the disclosure of military secrets, and membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian government classifies as a terrorist organisation.
Two members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hilmi al-Jazzar and Mohamed Abdel Rahman, were both sentenced in absentia to 25 years in prison.
This is the first time that military officers have been indicted for plotting a coup against the current Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who, then serving as head of the army, seized power in a military coup against the country’s first elected leader Mohammed Morsi.
The ruling against the military officers is not final and can be challenged before the Supreme Military Court.
Details are scarce regarding the arrests, which took place in late May. Egyptian media were ordered by the government not to cover the arrests, but a Muslim Brotherhood affiliated channel, al-Sharq TV, published a video at the time titled “Sisi turns against the army.”
The video included the list of charges and said that Sisi had arrested 26 officers to “eliminate internal opposition against him”.
Buzzfeed spoke to a relative of one of the officers, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals from security forces.
“Two months ago a group of officers disappeared and no one knew their whereabouts for two weeks,” the relative said. “We later found out they were accused of attempting a coup.”
The relative said no one was allowed to see the arrested officers, and that the lawyers told him some of the arrested officers had been exposed to harsh interrogation.
On Sunday however, an unnamed Egyptian military source vehemently denied the BBC report, saying that the army remains a uniform bloc supportive of Sisi, and that the military judiciary has not come across any coup plots.