Egypt to free 165 jailed protesters
Egypt has granted presidential pardons to 165 people jailed under a controversial law governing the right to protest
Egypt has granted presidential pardons to 165 people jailed under a controversial law governing the right to protest, a statement from the presidency said on Wednesday.
However, the list does not include any figures from the 2011 revolt that drove Hosni Mubarak from power and who were imprisoned under the law in a move that caused uproar among international human rights groups.
The 165, “convicted in trials for breaking the law on demonstrations”, have been granted a presidential pardon and will not serve the remainder of their sentences, the statement said.
It said the list of those to be released “includes a large number of young people and minors”.
The announcement comes on the eve of the start of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
Since the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the authorities have cracked down hard on his supporters and on all forms of opposition.
In November 2013, they adopted a new law outlawing demonstrations that have not been given advance authorisation by the police.
Hundreds of Islamist protesters -- as well as dozens of secular and leftwing demonstrators -- have been jailed under the legislation.
Leftwinger Alaa Abdel Fattah, a top secular activist behind the protests that led to Mubarak's downfall, was sentenced to five years in prison.
His sister Sanaa Seif got two years, and the founder of the April 6 movement that spearheaded the 2011 revolt, Ahmed Maher, was sentenced to three years.
There have been calls for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi -- who was army chief when Morsi was ousted -- to pardon figures from the 2011 uprising.
Following Morsi's removal, his supporters were targeted in a campaign of bloody repression in which at least 1,400 people were killed when security forces used deadly force against protesters.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 40,000 people were arrested or referred to the courts.
Hundreds have been sentenced to death in speedy mass trials that the United Nations called “unprecedented in recent history”.