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Egypt frees 3 as president appears to reach out to critics

In this photo provided by Egypt's presidency media office, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, speaks at an international youth conference, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday, January 10, 2022. (Egyptian Presidency Media Office via AP)
In this photo provided by Egypt's presidency media office, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, speaks at an international youth conference, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Monday, January 10, 2022. (Egyptian Presidency Media Office via AP)

Egyptian authorities have freed three journalists, the head of a journalists’ union says, the latest in a string of releases as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi appears to be reaching out to critics of his administration.

Ammer Abdel-Moneim, Hany Greisha and Essam Abdeen walk free from jail after they spent around a year and a half in detention in separate cases.

Diaa Rashwan, head of the Journalists’ Union, posts images showing the three journalists wearing white jail uniforms and embracing their families in the street.

They are released pending investigations into initial charges of misuse of social media and joining a terrorist group, in an apparent reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt designated the Brotherhood a terrorist organization since 2013. The three have yet to face trial.

Their release come a few days after authorities freed 41 detainees — including several prominent writers and activists — who had been held for months also without trial. Long pre-trial detentions have been a major concern for rights groups in recent years.

El-Sissi also reactivated a presidential pardon committee and appointed new members. The committee, in charge of reviewing cases of prisoners held for political crimes, was created in 2016 and had been mostly ineffective in recent years.

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