Diaa Rashwan (File photo: Al-Ahram)
On Friday, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi issued a new pardon list that included journalist Hisham Fouad, who was sentenced last November to four years in prison on charges of spreading false news on social media along with other convicts in a case referred to by the media as the ‘Hope Cell Plot.’
The list also included actor Tariq Al-Nahry, researcher Ahmed Samir Abdel Hai, Qassem Ashraf Qassem Ahmed, Abdel Raouf Khattab Hassan Khattab, Tariq Muhammad Al Mahdi Siddiq, and Khaled Abdel MoneimSadiq Saber.
Over 700 prisoners were released since the activation of the Presidential Pardon Committee, the statement added citing media remarks by Egypt’s National Political Dialogue (NPD) Coordinator and Head of Press Syndicate Diaa Rashwan.
On 26 April, El-Sisi announced during the annual Egyptian Family Iftar banquet the reactivation of the Presidential Pardon Committee – which was initially formed in October 2016.
The ANDMHR's statement also cited Rashwan's latest remakes that the pardons will pave the way for establishing a National Dialogue between national forces without exclusion.
"The succession of presidential pardons … reflects the seriousness of the trend towards political reform in Egypt … implementation of the national human rights strategy and openness to accept those imprisoned in opinion cases to participate and reintegrate back into the political community," the ANDMHR added.
Additionally, it called for issuing more presidential pardons to achieve the targeted progress to improve the atmosphere of the national dialogue.
The Egyptian president has stated that the terrorist-designated Muslim Brotherhood will be not invited to the dialogue.
The ANDMHR statement noted that the Presidential Pardon Committee has set clear standards for dealing with imprisoned youth, including the non-interference in cases of joining terrorist organizations and not releasing anyone who used violence against the Egyptian people, incited violence, or caused a direct violation of the right to life during the past years.
On Saturday, the NPD 19-member Board of Trustees held its third organizational meeting. It agreed on the economic and political fundamentals of conducting the dialogue.
The previous meetings have set the bylaws as well as the dialogue’s 25-article code of conduct and ethics and formed the sub-committees under the dialogue’s political track.
Rashwan stressed that the goal of the dialogue is to reach “common grounds” among participants including political, partisan, and syndicate forces.
El-Sisi has issued presidential pardons for thousands of prisoners during the past few years on various national and religious occasions including 727 prisoners on the 70th anniversary of the July 23 revolution and 1270 prisoners during Eid al-Adha earlier this month, according to the ANDMHR.