A political party and state-run media said that Egypt released more than three dozen detainees on Sunday, a week before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which is traditionally a season of amnesty.
Several high-profile captives have been released, according to political activists and family members.
Those released, according to the Reform and Development Party, were political prisoners kept in pre-trial detention. The state-run newspaper Al-English Ahram’s version reported that a total of 41 convicts had been released.
In a statement, the government’s human rights body merely stated that people detained in pre-trial detention had been released, but gave no further specifics.
The decision was made just a week before the Eid festival, which marks the end of Ramadan. It’s not unusual for prisoners to be released on presidential pardons around this time, but this year’s number was among the highest in recent years. Thousands of political detainees, on the other hand, are said to be held in Egypt’s prisons, many without charge or trial.
Waleed Shawky, a political activist, was among those released, according to his wife, Heba Anees, who posted on social media. She shared a photo of the couple hugging on Instagram.
Mohamed Salah, a journalist, was also released, according to activist Esraa Abdel Fattah. And human rights lawyer Nabeh Elganadi shared a photo with Radwa Mohamed, who was detained after posting videos on social media denouncing President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
Egypt’s state prosecutors have frequently utilized vague charges to extend 15-day pretrial detention periods for months or years, often with little proof, under broad counterterrorism regulations.
Sanaa Seif, the sister of Alaa Abdel Fattah, one of Egypt’s most prominent arrested activists, said her brother had been subjected to fresh ill-treatment in prison and was on his 22nd day of a hunger strike on Sunday.
Meanwhile, additional arrests continue to be made. Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer, claimed on Saturday that many men in the country’s south had been jailed and charged of spreading lies after singing a song about rising food prices in an internet video.
For years, El-government Sisi’s has been aggressively silencing dissenters and clamping down on independent organizations with arrests, detentions, jail terms, and other restrictions. El-government Sisi’s is a US ally with extensive economic ties to European countries.
Many of the leading activists from Egypt’s 2011 revolt are now imprisoned, the majority of them as a result of a draconian law imposed in 2013 that virtually outlawed all street protests.