Activist and Social Democratic Party member released

Ahram Online , Wednesday 15 Jan 2014

Prominent activist Hossam Hassan was arrested in November over a protest condemning police violence against non-Islamist protesters near Shura Council

Hossam Hassan
Prominent activist and leading member of Egyptian Social Democratic Party Hossam Hassan (C) after his release (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Prominent activist and leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party Hossam Hassan was released in Assiut on Tuesday following a weeks-long detention period over his role in recent protests, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

Hassan was arrested last November while holding a silent protest outside Assiut's security directorate against police violence during a demonstration near the parliament in Cairo, after a controversial law banning protests without prior police authorisation was passed.

Already engaged in a sustained clampdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement of deposed president Mohamed Morsi, the state has also arrested a number of non-Islamist activists in recent weeks for violating the protest law.

Hassan, along with six other party members, faced charges of "protesting without permission, assaulting authorities, obstructing public interest and blocking roads."

His party, of which Egypt's Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi is a co-founder, had condemned his arrest as well as the police crackdown on protesters as evidences of "mouth-silencing, tools of suppression, and curtailing freedoms."

Three leading icons of the 2011 uprising that toppled strongman Hosni Mubarak have been sentenced to three years in prison for protesting without permission and assaulting police. These include April 6 Youth Movement founder Ahmed Maher, member Mohamed Adel and long-time activist Ahmed Douma.

The activists' trial has fuelled fears of a broadening crackdown on public dissent, beyond an ongoing campaign on Islamists.

A court is due to hear their appeal on 20 January after it was adjourned last week.

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