Earlier this week, Egyptian actor and vocal government critic Amr Waked revealed that a military court in his home country sentenced him to eight years in jail.
Speaking to ABC News, the Syriana and Lucy actor said his lawyer informed him of the sentences passed in 2018, but said they haven't been ratified yet. His convictions in two cases include a three-year and five-year sentence for "spreading false news and insulting state institutions."
In a series of tweets, the star, who's currently based in Europe, explained that he had been threatened by officials back home. Waked has stressed that he "can't return to Egypt amid such threats."
An outspoken critic of President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi's regime, Waked left Egypt in 2017 and never went back after being notified of the legal charges awaiting him in the country.
In a statement posted on social media on Thursday, the actor said Egypt's embassy in Madrid, Spain, refused to renew his passport, which expired in 2017.
He also stated that he remains adamant on fighting for freedom of speech which he considers "a constitutional right."
Even after receiving threats, Waked continued to voice out his critical opinions, even expressing his opposition to the death penalty after the recent controversial executions that took place in Egypt.
Waked isn't letting the threats stop him
This isn't the first time the international star faces legal trouble in Egypt for criticizing its rulers. He has been targeted by pro-government officials since 2013.
In June 2017, Samir Sabry, a pro-government lawyer, filed a report with a military court against the actor accusing him of insulting the Egyptian army.
"The report was filed days after Waked posted a tweet criticizing the parliament's decision to approve a controversial island deal with Saudi Arabia which entailed handing over two Red Sea islands, Tiran and Sanafir, previously under Egyptian control to the Saudis," ABC news reported.
The ongoing campaign he has been subjected to in the past few months hasn't halted Waked's work plans. Next month, the Hulu series Ramy, a comedy about first-generation Egyptian-Americans in which he stars, is set to air.
Egypt has long been cracking on peaceful dissidents
According to the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the number of detained peaceful dissidents has increased to "the tens of thousands" under the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Artists, actors, journalists, and citizens from all walks of life face lengthy jail sentences for criticizing the current regime.
HRW thus called upon Egyptian authorities to respect the freedom of expression and release political prisoners.