Egyptain President pardons 100 prisoners, including Al Jazeera journalist

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Egypt’s president Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has pardoned 100 prisoners, including al-Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed and prominent activists jailed for violating the ban on unlicensed protests.
The pardons, also covering very young, elderly and ailing prisoners, were, in accordance with tradition, issued on the eve of the Muslim feast at the end of the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, and coincide with Mr Sisi’s appearance at the 70th United Nations General Assembly.
“The newest batch . . . comes as part of an initiative launched by the president in December 2013 to free groups of youths,” Egypt’s presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef stated.
Amnesty International welcomed the decision which the organisation hopes “stems from the authorities’conviction of the innocence of those imprisoned and is not related to . . . the president’s visit” to the US.

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Sentenced to three years in jail last month, Fahmy expects to depart for Canada with his fiancée, who has campaigned for his freedom.
He was convicted of membership in the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and harming national unity. Following the release and deportation of colleague Peter Greste, an Australian-Latvian dual citizen, under a presidential decree allowing foreign prisoners to serve time in their home countries, Fahmy renounced his Egyptian nationality and demanded repatriation to Canada.
A producer charged in the same case, Baher Mohamed had been jailed for three years for aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and given a second three-year term for possession of a bullet casing.
The cases of Greste and Fahmy have given the family of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa, who took part in Muslim Brotherhood protests in 2013, hope that he could also be pardoned if he is convicted when sentence is pronounced in his ongoing trial, which reconvenes on October 4th.
He is being held at Wadi Natrun prison along with another 420 detainees on trial with him. He was arrested in August 2013 and has been charged with participating in an illegal demonstration at a mosque in central Cairo.

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Among high-profile activists pardoned are Yara Sallam and Sanaa Seif, sentenced to two years in prison in October 2014 for organising an illegal demonstration. Ms Seif (21), is the daughter of Laila Seif, a university professor battling for academic freedom in Egypt, and of Ahmed Seif, a human rights lawyer who died last year. Ms Seif’s brother, Alaa Abd El-Fattah, also convicted of breaking the anti-protest law, was a leader of the 2011 uprising that ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Her aunt is Ahdaf Soueif, activist and novelist whose “Map of Love” was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.
Also pardoned is Alexandrian activist Omar Hazek, sentenced to two years in January 2014 for organising a prohibited protest in December 2013. 
source: Irishtimes


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