Egypt releases 203 prisoners jailed for taking part in ‘unauthorized protests’

Published March 15th, 2017 - 01:00 GMT
An Egyptian man embraces his parents following his release from prison in Cairo on March 14, 2017, along with 202 other prisoners who received a presidential pardon. (AFP/Aly Fahim)
An Egyptian man embraces his parents following his release from prison in Cairo on March 14, 2017, along with 202 other prisoners who received a presidential pardon. (AFP/Aly Fahim)

Egypt on Tuesday released 203 prisoners who received a presidential pardon after having been jailed for taking part in “unauthorised protests,” security and prison officials said.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday pardoned "203 youths who had court rulings issued against them in protest cases," his spokesman Alaa Youssef said on his official Facebook page.

A 2013 law used to jail activists for up to two years banned all but police-approved protests.

The authorities had used the law to prevent anti-government protests after the army overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi earlier that year.

A crackdown on Morsi's supporters after the July 2013 coup saw hundreds of demonstrators killed and thousands jailed, including secular dissidents.

Egypt's constitutional court ruled in December that part of the law violated the constitution, which guaranteed freedom of association and the right to peaceful protest.

The ruling struck down the interior ministry's ability to refuse permission when notified of a protest.

Sisi, a former army chief who won elections after toppling Morsi, had promised to look into pardoning prisoners at a youths' conference in October.

The president pardoned 82 "youths" last November, including a prominent advocate of Islamic reform jailed for "insulting" religion.

He also pardoned 100 people in September 2015, including two journalists and several prominent dissidents.

Between 40,000 and 60,000 political activists have been jailed in Egypt since the 2013 military coup that brought Sisi to power.


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