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Egypt court orders release of activists in 'islands' case

The islands deal has sparked public outcry and protests [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 10 October, 2016

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A Cairo court has ordered the conditional release of two Egyptian activists who spent months in jail due to planned protests against the handover of two islands to Saudi Arabia.

A Cairo court ordered the conditional release of two prominent activists detained months ago following protests against Egypt's handover of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

According to lawyer Mokhtar Mounir, activists Haitham Mohamadein and Hamdi Qeshta will have to report to a police station three times a week for the next 45 days.

The two activists were arrested in April ahead of planned protests against a maritime border demarcation deal when Egypt handed over sovereignty of two Red Sea islands - Tiran and Sanafir - to Saudi Arabia.

They were accused of joining an outlawed group, inciting protests, and attempting to overthrow the government.

Prosecutors kept renewing their detention several times before Sunday's court decision.

The islands' deal has sparked public outcry and protests since it was signed in early April, with some people saying it was tantamount to a sell-off of Egypt to the Kingdom.

The islands deal has sparked public outcry and protests
since it was signed in early April [Gallo]

The government has said that determining the two islands fell within Saudi regional waters was the culmination of a six-year process of studies and eleven rounds of negotiations between the two sides.

However, many critics cited an agreement reached between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire in 1906 that awarded sovereignty over the islands to Egypt.

In June, Egypt's administrative court annulled the deal and affirmed that the two islands fall within Egypt's borders, before the Cairo Court of Urgent Affairs suspended the ruling in September.

The deal continues to be challenged in courts, with a decision by the administrative court expected in October.

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