Thursday, November 17, 2016

Egypt's Sisi Pardons 82 Prisoners, Mostly University Students
Ahram Online
Thursday 17 Nov 2016

Those pardoned include students and journalists; TV host El-Behery and Egyptian MD Ahmed Saeid and photographer Mohamed Ali Salah are also pardoned

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has pardoned 82 prisoners, including prominent Islamic studies researcher Islam El-Behery, official news agency MENA announced on Thursday.

According to the media office of the Egyptian presidency, most of those pardoned are university students.

The President's office stated that TV host and prominent Islamic studies researcher Islam El-Behery and MD Ahmed Saeid were included in the pardon.

El-Behery was sentenced to one year in prison in December 2015, having been convicted of “contempt of religion” in connection with the content of his now-suspended TV programme.

He was originally sentenced to five years in prison in May 2015 but the court reduced his sentence to one year on appeal.

Saeid, who at one point lived and worked Germany, has been convicted in November 2015 of breaking the Protest Law and received a two-year sentence. Activists have been campaigning for months for his release.

The presidential statement said this was the first batch of prisoners to be pardoned in accordance with Article 155 of the constitution.

Article 155 stipulates that the president may issue a pardon or mitigate a sentence after consulting with the cabinet.

The pardons come based on the recommendations the committee formed by the presidency in late October to review the cases of youths detained for “politically related crimes," as well as other humanitarian cases.

Last week, the presidency expanded the scope of the committee's review task to includeprisoners who have received final verdicts in crimes involving protest, publishing and speech.

The five-member committee comprises prominent politician and member of the Free Egyptians Party Osama El-Ghazaly Harb, writer Nashwa El-Houfy, MP Tarek El-Kholy, National Council for Human Rights member Mohamed Abdel-Aziz and former member of President El-Sisi's electoral campaign, Karim El-Sakka.

Members of the committee told Ahram Online previously that the first batch of pardoned prisoners would include 83 names.

The committee has been coordinating its work with the National Council for Human Rights and the parliamentary human rights committee, as well as political parties, unions, rights organisations and the families of detainees.

The committee has said is also coordinating with the interior and justice ministries on preparing lists for pardons.

Photographer Mohamed Ali Salah, who was arrested in 2013 while covering a protest in Nasr city for "Al-Shaab Al-Gadid" newspaper, is among those pardoned.

Salah was sentenced 3 years in jail on charges of breaking the Protest Law.

According to Khaled Al-Balshy, the head of Freedoms committee in journalists syndicate, Salah's prison term was set to end in one month and ten days.

Salah is the only journalist on the list of those pardoned today.

In 2015, the president pardoned 100 prisoners, including dozens who were convicted of violating the controversial protest law during the 2013 Shura Council demonstrations and the 2014 Ittihadiya demonstrations.

Ahram Online obtained a copy of the list of pardoned prisoners from a member of the committee.

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