Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE pardon 152 Egyptian prisoners

Ahram Online, Tuesday 1 Jul 2014

'Special bilateral relations' between Egypt and Gulf nations prompted prisoner release, says Egyptian foreign ministry aide

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have pardoned 152 Egyptians prisoners on the occasion of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, a foreign ministry official told state news agency MENA.

An aide to the Egyptian foreign minister, Ali El-Ashri, said the decision comes amid "special bilateral relations" between Egypt and these countries.

El-Ashri said the pardons ranged from full release to lightened sentences for 21 in Saudi Arabia, 83 in Kuwait and 48 in UAE.

The oil-rich Gulf countries have become strong allies of Egypt after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year and the election of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. They have already showered Egypt with nearly $20 billion in aid to bolster its faltering economy.

There were protests in Egypt in 2012 denouncing the imprisonment of an Egyptian human rights lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi, sentenced to five years in jail and 300 lashes for drug smuggling. The case was seen as politically motivated because of El-Gizawi's outspoken criticism of prison conditions in the Kingdom.

It was not clear if El-Gizawi is among those pardoned.

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