Egypt Releases 7, Including Journalist, Researcher

Egypt has released seven people, including a journalist and a researcher serving prison sentences on terror-related charges, the latest steps by the government to reach out to the opposition amid a grinding economic crisis.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s administration is grappling with the crisis and spiraling economy, spawned by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, imports most of its wheat from the two Slavic countries.

Saturday’s freeing of journalist Hisham Fouad and anthropology researcher Ahmed Samir came a day after El-Sisi pardoned them, along with five others, according to state-run media.

The two were released from the Tora prison complex in Cairo and images shared online showed them hugging families and friends outside the prison.

Fouad was arrested along with several other secular activists in June 2019, shortly after the group met with political parties and opposition lawmakers trying to hash out how to run in the 2020 parliamentary elections.

Among the detained were Hossam Monis and Zyad El-Elaimy, prominent activists in the country’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

They were convicted last year of conspiring to commit crimes with an outlawed group, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has banned as a terrorist organisation.

Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg welcomed the release of Samir, who had been on a visit home when he was arrested.

The minister told the Austria Press Agency that Austrian officials had repeatedly expressed concern to Egyptian authorities about his conditions of detention and “in our view, disproportionate sentence”.

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