Egypt announces release of 30 jailed activists in mass pardon


Up to 30 political activists have been released from jail, the Egyptian government announced late Thursday.

The announcement came from Tarik el-Awady, a member of Egypt’s presidential pardon committee. He said the 30 had been in pre-trial detention, facing charges related to their “opinions.”

No immediate word on the identities of the activists. It was not immediately possible to confirm how many of them have already been freed.

The move is the latest in a series of mass releases from detention amid intensifying international scrutiny over the country’s human rights record.

Since 2013, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government has cracked down on dissidents and critics, jailing thousands, virtually banning protests and monitoring social media.

Human Rights Watch estimated in 2019 that as many as 60,000 political prisoners are incarcerated in Egyptian prisons, many without trial.

The issue came to focus during Egypt’s hosting of the two-week world climate summit earlier this month. The conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh was in part overshadowed by the hunger strike of imprisoned Egyptian political dissident, Alaa Abdel-Fattah.

As the summit known as COP27 opened, Abdel-Fattah intensified his months-long, partial hunger strike to completely stop any calorie intake and stopped drinking water in an effort to draw attention to his case and others like him.

Then, as concerns for his fate mounted, he ended his strike. He remains in prison.

In the months building up the summit, Egypt had sought to rectify its international image, pardoning dozens of prisoners and establishing a new “strategy” to upgrade human rights conditions.

Rights groups have remained sceptical about whether these moves will translate into any lasting change, with Amnesty International describing the strategy as a “shiny cover-up”’ used to broker favour with foreign governments and financial institutions. (Source: AP)