Gulf states pardon 152 Egyptian prisoners for Ramadan
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait have pardoned 152 Egyptians prisoners on the occasion of Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month, a foreign ministry official told state news agency MENA.
An aide to the Egyptian foreign minister, Ali El-Ashri, said the decision comes amid "special bilateral relations" between Egypt and these countries.
El-Ashri said the pardons ranged from full release to lightened sentences for 21 in Saudi Arabia, 83 in Kuwait and 48 in UAE.
The oil-rich Gulf countries have become strong allies of Egypt after the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year and the election of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. They have already showered Egypt with nearly $20 billion in aid to bolster its faltering economy.
There were protests in Egypt in 2012 denouncing the imprisonment of an Egyptian human rights lawyer Ahmed El-Gizawi, sentenced to five years in jail and 300 lashes for drug smuggling. The case was seen as politically motivated because of El-Gizawi's outspoken criticism of prison conditions in the Kingdom.
It was not clear if El-Gizawi is among those pardoned.