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Egypt court releases lawyer who defied president

29 August 2016, 08:43

Cairo - An Egyptian rights lawyer who had been held in solitary confinement for over 100 days after defying President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi was released from jail Sunday on a court order.

Malek Adly, who was incarcerated on a rolling series of administrative detention orders, was freed after a court rejected an appeal by prosecutors a day earlier that had attempted to hold him longer over accusations that included attempting to overthrow the government.

"We don't know what will happen next, the case is still open and they could try to detain him again," said Adly's lawyer, Mahmoud Belal. "What's important though is that he is out."

Adly's supporters say authorities targeted him over a televised interview in which he objected to El-Sissi's decision in April to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, implying that such a move was traitorous.

Along with other lawyers, Adly raised a court case against the handover, arguing that the islands were historically Egypt's, as opposed to the government's position that they had always been Saudi territory and were only placed under temporary Egyptian protection.

About two months after Adly was jailed, an Egyptian court backed his legal suit with a June 21 ruling ordering the island transfer canceled. The government has appealed, and the matter now awaits discussion by a new panel of judges.

The decision to hand over the islands sparked a wave of protests that were met with hundreds of arrests. El-Sissi has publicly shown a high sensitivity over the issue, repeatedly saying that all discussion of the topic must stop.

Also Sunday, a court ordered the release on some $500 bail of journalist Amr Badr, who had been detained since May 1 on charges of publishing false news and inciting against the state.

Badr, a government critic who works for a website known as January Gate, was taken into custody when police stormed the Journalists' Union building in downtown Cairo, where he had been holding a sit-in to protest accusations against him.

- AP


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