Egypt lawyer Gizawi to get jail and lashes in Saudi Arabia

Protest outside the Saud embassy in Cairo (file photo) Egyptians staged angry protests outside the Saudi embassy in April

An Egyptian human rights lawyer has been sentenced to five years in jail and 300 lashes by a court in Saudi Arabia, his former lawyer says.

Ahmed al-Gizawi was convicted of drug trafficking by a court in Jeddah, in a case which sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Mr Gizawi was arrested in April with more than 20,000 anti-anxiety drugs, which are banned in Saudi Arabia.

Egyptians protested at his arrest, and the Saudis recalled their ambassador.

The fallout was the worst between the two countries since Saudi Arabia severed ties when Egypt signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979. The two powers restored relations in 1987.

Another Egyptian who was arrested in connection with the same case was sentenced to four years in prison and 400 lashes, and a Saudi national jailed for two years and sentenced to 100 lashes, AFP news agency reports.

'Lenient' verdicts

Egyptian activists say Mr Gizawi was held after lodging a complaint against Saudi Arabia for its treatment of Egyptians in its prisons.

His family said he had gone to perform a pilgrimage.

But Saudi authorities doubted this account, saying Mr Gizawi was not wearing white pilgrims' clothes when he was arrested.

He was detained at Jeddah Airport after officials found the anti-anxiety medication Xanax in his luggage.

"These verdicts are lenient" given the defendants' "good morals... and the lack of judicial precedents" the judge at the hearing said, according to AFP.

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