Egypt's president pardons 560, including prominent columnist
CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi pardoned 560 prisoners, including a prominent journalist and several women.
The pardons, announced in the official gazette late Thursday, coincide with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan when authorities traditionally release detainees as a goodwill gesture.
The journalist, Abdel Halim Qandil, was sentenced to three years in absentia in December 2017 for "insulting the judiciary." He surrendered in October 2018 as Egypt's highest appeals court upheld his verdict. He was pardoned for health reasons.
Qandil was tried in a case that included 17 other defendants, among them ousted Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, on the same charges.
Among those pardoned are eight women who had been sentenced in 2018 to several years in prison on grounds of belonging to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organization and staging an anti-government protest in the Delta province of Damietta.
Egyptian authorities have not said yet when the prisoners will be released.
El-Sissi has waged an unprecedented crackdown on dissent in recent years, arresting thousands — mostly Islamists but also prominent secular activists — and rolling back freedoms won after the 2011 uprising.