Egypt on Wednesday was releasing around 3,000 prisoners on the orders of the country's military ruler to mark the one year anniversary of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, officials said.
Security officials told AFP that 1,959 prisoners were being released after they were pardoned by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on Saturday.
"Another 1,014 charged with criminal acts are also in the process of being released early for good behaviour," one official said.
The order to free the prisoners is one of several concessions offered by Tantawi on the anniversary of the revolution, in an apparent bid to placate protesters who have called for mass nationwide demonstrations.
On Tuesday, the ruling general announced the partial lifting of the decades-old emergency law, but said it would still apply to acts of "thuggery", drawing criticism from local and international rights groups.
The release comes as thousands of Egyptians poured into Tahrir Square, amid differences over whether Wednesday's rallies were celebrations or a renewed push for change.