Ex-Egyptian presidential candidate Tantawy found guilty of forgery, sources say

Former member of parliament Ahmed el-Tantawy, who intends to become an opposition presidential candidate, attends a press conference at headquarters of Conservative Party in Cairo

CAIRO (Reuters) -Former Egyptian presidential hopeful Ahmed Tantawy was found guilty on Tuesday of forging election documents and ordered to pay a fine and barred from upcoming elections, four security and judiciary sources said.

Twenty-one members of his campaign were handed a one-year sentence with labor, in a continuation of a decade-long crackdown on activists under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Tantawy, who emerged as the most popular potential challenger in elections last year, pulled out after failing to receive enough signatures required to certify his candidacy.

As part of the campaign, he distributed copies of the form needed for supporters to endorse him, as his campaign said they had been blocked from completing the forms in government offices.

Shortly after withdrawing from the race, he was charged with forgery. Tantawy on Tuesday was handed a suspended sentence of one year and ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Egyptian pounds in lieu.

He is also barred from running in any election, including local, parliamentary, and presidential for the next five years. The next presidential election is expected in 2030.

During the campaign for the 2023 election, which Sisi won with nearly 90% of the vote, Tantawy said dozens of family members and allies were arrested.

Egyptian authorities have denied violations in the election process, and say they do not hold political prisoners.

Sisi says Egyptians have enjoyed greater rights through development, and that security is paramount.

(Reporting by Cairo bureau; Editing by Mark Porter and Daniel Wallis)