Egyptian authorities order release of several pretrial detainees, including journalist

Ahram Online , Sunday 29 May 2022

The Egyptian authorities have ordered the release of several pretrial detainees, including a journalist, who have been detained for more than two years pending investigation in different cases.

Egypt

 

The detainees included in the decision are researcher Kholoud Said, activist Sameh Saudi and journalist Khaled Ghoneim, said lawyer Tarek Elawady, a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee, on his Facebook page Sunday.

Authorities also ordered the release of lawyer Hassan El-Sayad, who has been in pretrial detention pending investigation since 2019, said human rights lawyer Khaled Ali in a Facebook post today.

Said, a researcher and a department head at Bibliotheca Alexandrina, has been detained since 2020 over spreading false news and joining a terrorist group.

Saudi has been detained since 2019 over charges including joining a terrorist group, while Ghoneim has been detained since 2020 over spreading false news and misusing social media platforms.

These orders come a month after Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for a national political dialogue with all forces “without exception or discrimination” and ordered the reactivation of the Presidential Pardon Committee.

The committee, first formed in 2016, is assigned to review the cases of those imprisoned for political crimes and others who meet certain other conditions, such as families who have more than one relative in jail.

The scope of the committee, which started work immediately upon reactivation, has been expanded to cooperate with state institutions and NGOs and to include imprisoned debtors.

Batches of detainees who have been granted presidential pardons will be released on Monday and Thursday, Elawady said earlier today.

The committee is working on a list of pardon requests for 2,418 detainees and prisoners made by a group of human rights groups on 23 May, Elawady said.

The list includes 2,164 prisoners held in cases with a political nature, 142 people in criminal cases, and 112 forced disappearance cases sent by a group of human rights groups, according to the letter obtained by Elawady.

On 10 May, the committee announced that it would issue a list of dozens of prisoners for presidential pardons soon, but the list has not yet been released.

More than 4,000 prisoners were granted presidential pardons in April and May on the occasion of Eid El-Fitr and Sinai Liberation Day.

The restructured committee has said it will receive pardon requests through many avenues, including through the National Youth Conference website.

The committee will also receive requests through the complaints committee of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) and via email to the human rights committees in both the House of the Representatives and Senate.

Pardon requests can also be submitted directly to the members of the pardon committee, according to the statement.

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