Top prosecutor denies there are "political prisoners" in Egypt's jails
Egypt's top prosecutor said on Wednesday that Egyptian prisons have no political detainees, amid an outcry against a broadening government crackdown on dissent.
All those currently imprisoned are being detained pending court or prosecution orders or have received sentences from the respective courts, Egyptian public prosecutor Hisham Barakat said.
He made his remarks during a meeting with the first EU special representative for human rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, who is currently in Cairo for talks with government officials and rights campaigners.
Barakat added that all detentions in recent months were ordered in accordance with the country's criminal law and were not subject to any exceptional legislation.
Egypt's interim authorities have faced increasing criticism for the recent arrests and alleged abuse of protesters by police.
The government has launched a widespread crackdown on Islamists since the military ousted president Mohamed Morsi last July after mass protests against his rule. Thousands of his supporters have been jailed and hundreds others killed in street violence.
But the arrest of many non-Islamist protesters along with several prominent secular-minded activists has fuelled anxiety that the country is returning to the oppressive policies common under long-time leader Hosni Mubarak, whose 30-year-rule was ended by the 2011 protests against police abuse and general ill-treatment at the hands of security forces.
"As the scope of repression across the country continues to expand unabated, the hopes of freedom and justice are becoming more elusive," London-based Amnesty International said in a February report concerning the "staggering" arrests made on 25 January, the third anniversary of the 2011 uprising.
More than 1,000 people were arrested on that day alone, according to the interior ministry.
The report also cited accounts by eyewitnesses and former detainees about the abuse and ill-treatment they suffered in prison at the hands of security forces.