They said the 101 were convicted of breaking a disputed 2013 law that effectively bans street protests. Seventy-nine of them were fined 100,000 Egyptian pounds (£8,000) each and 54 were convicted and sentenced in absentia. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorised to speak to the media.

Two Cairo courts have convicted and sentenced to five years in jail more than 100 protesters for taking part in peaceful, anti-government demonstrations last month, officials said on Sunday.

The sentences were passed late on Saturday, hours after another Cairo court sentenced 51 protesters to two years in jail for their part in last month’s demonstrations, which were called in protest at Egypt’s decision to hand over control of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia as part of a demarcation deal.

The deal, negotiated in near total secrecy, has brought mounting criticism of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi by activists who claim the transfer was a sell-off to oil-rich Saudi Arabia, which last month announced a multibillion-dollar aid package to Egypt.

Sisi maintains that the islands belong to the Saudis and has angrily demanded an end to public criticism of the deal.

Related: Egypt police suppress protests against Sisi government

A massive police deployment on 25 April stifled the planned demonstrations, prompting activists to stage small flash protests in various parts of the capital. More than 1,200 arrests were made in the run-up to the event and on the day. Most of those arrested have been released, but almost 300 faced formal charges and were referred to trial for breaking the protest law.

The arrests and Saturday’s sentences signalled the government’s zero tolerance for dissent. Sisi says he has to balance safeguarding rights with his government’s fight against a resilient insurgency by Islamic militants in Sinai and efforts to revive the economy.

He has repeatedly insisted that Egypt’s human rights record must not be judged by western standards.

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