Egypt to free 700 prisoners to mark Sinai Liberation Day

Egypt to free 700 prisoners to mark Sinai Liberation Day
Egypt will release hundreds of prisoners early to mark Sinai Liberation Day, however swathes of political prisoners remain in jails under Sisi's regime.
2 min read
07 June, 2018
Prisoners are released from Cairo's Tora prison in 2017 [Getty]
Egypt's interior ministry announced on Wednesday it was to pardon 920 prisoners, 700 of whom would be released to mark the anniversary of Sinai Liberation Day which is celebrated on 25 April.

Roughly half of the pardoned prisoners had their sentences reduced, with the other half allowed release after having completed two-thirds of their sentences, the statement added.

The Interior Ministry does not usually select political prisoners for release, which include swathes of high profile activists, bloggers and journalists who have been subject to a sweeping crackdown by the regime of Abdelfattah al-Sisi amid international condemnation for his ruthless silencing of dissenting voices.

In addition to political prisoners, the pardons are not granted to those convicted of crimes that "threaten the security" of Egypt, possession of arms of explosives, as well as bribery or fraud.

Egypt's hawkish interior ministry routinely jails people who speak out against injustice on various trumped-up charges. In the past month, two women have been jailed for publishing their experiences of sexual harassment online.

Last month, Amnesty International accused Egypt of subjecting political prisoners to prolonged solitary confinement and to physical abuse, saying the practice amounts to torture.

"Dozens of detained human rights activists, journalists and members of the opposition held in solitary confinement are being targeted with horrendous physical abuse," the human rights group said in a summary of a report.

Amnesty's investigation "reveals that prisoners detained on politically motivated charges are being held in prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement in Egypt - at times for several years - which in and of itself amounts to torture."

"They are locked in their cells for 24 hours for weeks at end, denied any human contact and kept in horrific cell conditions."

The London-based group said it documented 36 cases of prisoners being held in prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement.