Egypt releases 15 opposition politicians, activists

Cairo, Mar 21 (EFE).- Egyptian authorities have released 15 opposition politicians and activists, some of whom were under pretrial detention for a couple of years, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information announced on Saturday.

The released detainees were prominent opposition leaders of President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi’s government.

The Public Prosecutor’s office ordered the conditional release of 15 prisoners on Thursday, Gamal Eid, director of the Network told Efe.

“They all were released yesterday and arrived at their homes,” he added.

Among the prisoners released is Hazem Abdel-Azim, who was al-Sisi’s advisor during the 2014 electoral campaign, after he was under pretrial detention since 2018.

Hassan Nafaa, a professor of Political Science at Cairo University, and Shady al-Ghazaly Harb, a member of al-Dustur liberal party were also set free.

They are accused of spreading false news and belonging to a criminal organization.

Some of them, including Abdel-Azim, are accused of inciting the overthrow of the regime.

Nafaa was arrested in September, days after rare anti-government rallies, accused of inciting the protests and supporting the objectives of a terror organization.

Their procedural situation is “unclear”, but “in general, the Egyptian authorities have followed the same practice since the 1990s against activists, punishing them with preventive detention and leaving their cases open in case they ever get angry with them,” Eid added.

“These types of cases could remain open for years without judicial proceedings.”

Their release came after relatives of arrested activists protested earlier this week calling for the detainees to be set free given the health conditions in the prisons amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Amnesty International on Friday called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release all the activists and human right advocates – who have been arrested only for peacefully expressing their ideas – amid the coronavirus outbreak. EFE


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