A Cairo court on Wednesday suspended the six-month jail sentence of controversial TV figure Tawfik Okasha, pending an appeal.
As a result of the Cairo Misdemeanour Court's decision, Okasha, who was arrested last week, was released from detention straight away.
The founder of Al-Faraeen TV channel appeared in court on Wednesday for the first time since his arrest on Friday. He wore a blue prison uniform and greeted supporters and family members attending the session.
According to a statement published by the interior ministry last week, Okasha was arrested due to three outstanding court rulings against him.
In the one ruling, he was sentenced in absentia to six months in jail for squandering marital funds, and in a second he was sentenced to two weeks in jail as well as a LE100 fine for beating his ex-wife.
He was also fined LE10,000 in another court case in 2015 for defaming his ex-wife.
Following his arrest last week, Al-Faraeen halted its programming and posted an on-screen message stating that Okasha was banned from taking his medication while in detention, and holding Interior Minister Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar responsible for Okasha’s health.
The channel resumed its programming shortly afterwards, and asked that supporters share the hashtag “in support of Tawfik Okasha” online. The channel covered a series of Okasha’s accomplishments, describing the media figure, a backer of El-Sisi, as a national hero who always stood with the Egyptian people against oppression and suppression.
One programme featured Okasha's mother, Mofeeda El-Fekki, pleading for his release.
According to Al-Faraeen, lawyer and public figure Mortada Mansour and newspaper editor Mostafa Bakri met with the interior minister last week in order to find a solution to what it described as “the Tawfik Okasha crisis.”
The channel speculated that the reason behind the arrest was the presenter's recent criticism of the interior ministry and other state officials.
In an episode aired the week before his arrest, Okasha criticised the interior minister on his show, claiming that the minister, who was formerly head of the
National Security Apparatus, was asked to “get rid of Okasha” by former president Mohamed Morsi.
He even presented his “coffin” on air, adding that he was “ready to die for Egypt and what is right.”
“All I want is reform,” Okasha said, addressing the interior minister.
Well-known for his foul language and usage of an extremely informal dialect that brings to mind rural Egypt, Okasha is a controversial media figure.
He has always attacked the 2011 revolution, describing it as a “naksa” (setback), and has also been an uncompromising critic of Egyptian pro-democracy activists, accusing some of receiving foreign funds and working against the state.
His channel was often used to shame government critics who he referred to as “the fifth column.”
During Mohamed Morsi's presidency, he accused the then newly-appointed minister of defence, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, of being a “Muslim Brotherhood member in disguise.”
However, after Morsi's ouster Al-Faraeen broadcast a documentary entitled “Two Men” that portrayed Okasha and El-Sisi as the two men who had "saved Egypt from the January 25 Revolution.”
In another controversial outburst last year, Okasha threatened to hang Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk “from an ancient Cairo gate.”
Abu Marzouk had criticised a letter from President Mahmoud Abbas to Okasha, praising the Egyptian broadcaster for encouraging Arab tourism to Jerusalem.