Egypt's president pardons prisoners including campaigner Ahmed Douma

Move comes before Egypt's presidential elections in 2024

Egyptian activist Ahmed Douma was sentenced to 15 years in prison in February 2015. AFP
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Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has pardoned a number of prisoners, including campaigner Ahmed Douma, state television said on Saturday.

The network did not identify the other prisoners pardoned or say how many were to be freed.

The pardons come ahead of presidential elections next year. Mr El Sisi, Egypt's leader for the past 10 years, is yet to confirm whether he is running for another six-year term.

Douma played a leading role in the January 25 uprising that removed president Hosni Mubarak from office in 2011.

Security forces first arrested Douma, then aged 25, in January 2012 over his participation in a sit-in.

He was released after three months, but rearrested on December 2013 amid a wave of arrests under a new law banning public protests without permission. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison in February 2015.

His conviction and sentence were upheld by the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court, in July 2020.

Human rights groups have repeatedly called for Egyptian authorities to release Douma and other activists.

Alaa Abdel Fattah, another prominent activist involved in the uprising against Mubarak, remains in prison after being sentenced to a five-year term in December 2021 on charges of spreading false news.

Mr El Sisi has ordered the release of hundreds of critics held in pretrial detention over the past year, while critics living in exile abroad have been allowed to return home.

The pardons come as Egypt conducts a so-called "national dialogue" that includes opposition groups.

Mr El Sisi said on Wednesday that he had received the first recommendations from the dialogue and had "passed them on to the competent authorities so that they can be applied within the framework granted by the legal and constitutional provisions".

Updated: August 19, 2023, 12:35 PM