Amnesty International has accused the Egyptian authorities of jailing young activists to quell unrest under one of the toughest crackdowns in the country's history.
In a report released Tuesday called "Generation Jail: Egypt's youth go from protest to prison," Amnesty looked at the cases of 14 young people among thousands it said were arbitrarily imprisoned in Egypt in the past two years in connection with protests.
Amnesty and other human rights groups have criticized what they call repressive policies under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.
"By relentlessly targeting Egypt's youth activists, the authorities are crushing an entire generation's hopes for a brighter future," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International.
After the 2010 uprising that toppled veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak, youths were seen as potential engines for change.
"Yet, today, many of these young activists are languishing behind bars, providing every indication that Egypt has regressed into a state of all-out repression," said Sahraoui.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty denied that Egypt is targeting youth activists in a crackdown on dissent.
"It's nonsense... the whole revolution of the 30th of June was about empowerment of youth and building a new democracy," he said.