A defense lawyer says Egypt's highest appeal court has upheld the convictions and three-year prison sentences handed down to three prominent activists for violating a draconian law on protests.

Tuesday's court decision leaves the three — Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohammed Adel — with no other legal options.

They have already spent just over a year in jail after they were arrested and charged with breaking a 2013 law criminalizing political gatherings of more than 10 people without prior permission and imposes tough penalties on violators.

Lawyer Tarek al-Awadi says the Cassation Court did not give a reason for turning down the appeal.

The protest law came under renewed criticism after the killing last weekend of a female protester when police moved in to disperse the small rally.