Faced with a harsh security crackdown in the wake of a military coup against former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, many Egyptians had to flee their country.
Many say they have been put on trial on “fabricated” charges of inciting violence and plotting to overthrow the military-backed ruling regime.
“I was arrested two days after the coup on fake charges of inciting violence,” Muslim Brotherhood leader Helmi Gazzar told Anadolu Agency.
“The charges were baseless as there was no single proof brought against me by prosecutors,” said Gazzar, a former parliamentarian.
Spending three months in a single cell, the Brotherhood leader was released on bail. He later fled Egypt to Sudan, where he lives now.
Former lawmaker Ayman Nour said he had to flee Egypt following the coup against Morsi.
“This was the first time to be forced to leave the country against my will,” said Nour, who now lives in Istanbul, Turkey.
Nour said he had been previously detained for “telling the truth” and speaking out against injustice.
“I will come back to Egypt soon once freedom of speech is restored,” he said. “I’m confident that God will never abandon those who paid the price of freedom with their blood.”
Former deputy health minister Abdul Nasir Sakr, 61, gave a similar account of the circumstances that had forced him to flee Egypt.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sakr said he was detained by Egyptian security forces in 2013 following the dispersal of two major sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square and Giza’s Nahda square.
“I was released nearly a year later, but I had to flee to Sudan after I was charged [with violence],” he said.
Hundreds of protesters were killed when Egyptian security forces violently cleared the two sit-ins amid a harsh crackdown that left thousands behind bars.
Mahmoud Abdulhamid al-Anani, 20, a journalist and blogger, was arrested in late 2013.
“I was slapped with a 6-year jail term on charges of plotting to overthrow the government,” said Anani.
He recalled that his house had been raided by security forces and one of his brothers was jailed for six months.
"I managed to flee to Turkey in 2014,” Anani said, reiterating that he believes “the revolution will succeed” in Egypt.
Former Al Jazeera correspondent Baher Mohamed, 34, was slapped with a 10-year jail term for allegedly spreading false news and links to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the authorities blacklisted in 2013.
"The months I spent in prison have taught me how much they [authorities] hate the freedom of
“I have seen many innocent journalists languishing in prison,” he said.
Mohamed’s jail term was later reduced to three after an appeal before being released a presidential pardon.
"Knowledge is power and saves people from injustice," Mohamed said.
Mohammad Sultan, who now lives in the U.S., recalled bloodshed in Egypt following the violent dispersal of pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo.
“For two years, I have tried to remove the scenes of bloodshed, scattered bodies and injured people from my mind, but to no avail,” he said.
“I tried hard to forget the smell of death.”
Sultan, who was extradited to the U.S. after abandoning his Egyptian nationality, recalled that an Egyptian sniper had fired on him as he was broadcasting live the dispersal of the Rabaa camp.
“He had almost missed me,” he said.
He described the dispersal of the Rabaa sit in as “bloodiest day in Egypt’s modern history”.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from AnkaraAnadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.