Egypt pardons, releases jailed activist
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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has pardoned a former parliamentarian, lawyer and key activist from the 2011 revolt who has been jailed for the past three years, officials said Monday.
Zyad el-Elaimy, 42, arrested in June 2019 on charges of fomenting "unrest against the state", was sentenced to a year in prison in March 2020 for "spreading false news" after an interview with the BBC.
Ikram el-Elaimy, the activist's mother, confirmed in a Facebook post that he had been released, and "wished the same for all prisoners of conscience" in Egypt.
"A presidential pardon has been granted" for Elaimy, lawyer Tariq Al-Awadi, a member of the pardon committee, said on social media.
Elaimy is the latest in a string of prisoners to have been pardoned, with his release ordered as Egypt readies to host the United Nations COP27 climate summit next month.
A symbol of the 2011 revolt that ousted president Hosni Mubarak, Elaimy was subsequently elected as a member of parliament for the Social Democratic Party.
A secular activist, he told AFP in 2015 that he dreamt of seeing the slogans "bread, freedom, social justice, human dignity" become reality.
Cairo has faced frequent criticism of its rights record under Sisi, who ousted late Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and was elected president the following year.
Advocacy groups say there are currently about 60,000 political prisoners in the country, a number Cairo rejects.
Rights groups hope to raise the issue at the upcoming COP27 climate summit.
Among the best-known detainees is activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has been on hunger strike for more than six months.
The British citizen was sentenced by a Cairo court in December to five years in prison after he was convicted along with two others of "broadcasting false news", a charge often used in recent years against activists and dissidents.