Egypt releases prominent activist and rights lawyer Mahinour El-Masry

Egypt releases prominent activist and rights lawyer Mahinour El-Masry
2 min read
14 August, 2016
Egyptian political detainee, Mahinour El-Masry was released from prison on Saturday afternoon, after serving more than 15 months in jail.
El-Masry was awarded the 2014 Ludovic Trarieux Award for her defence of human rights [Getty]
Egyptian authorities released several political prisoners on Saturday after more than a year of imprisonment.

Among those freed were human rights lawyer, Mahinour al-Masry and journalist Yousif Shaaban who were jailed for "storming" an Alexandria police station in 2013.

The two were sentenced with a 20 year sentence along with eight others on charges of "protesting without authorisation, damaging property" and "injuring policemen" however a retrial in May 2015 saw the defendants sentenced to a decreased 15 months.

While imprisoned, El-Masry was awarded the 2014 Ludovic Trarieux Award for her contributions to the defence of human rights.

In January, a source told The New Arab that Egypt's President Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi was expected to issue pardons for 100 convicts on the anniversary of the January 25 revolution, in an attempt to ward of mass anti-government protests.

The 2015 pardons that included some imprisoned revolutionaries and left-wing activists did not boost Sisi's popularity among these groups. 

"On the contrary, they increased discontent against him because most of the people pardoned were Brotherhood members with short prison sentences remaining," the official said.

The source, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, added that the report advised that prominent jailed activists Alaa Abd al-Fattah and Mahinour al-Masry be released in the pardon to "boost Sisi's popularity and quell calls for protests on the anniversary".

Egypt's government launched an intense government crackdown against Islamists and other dissidents - including secular activists who led the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

In June 2015, New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists [CPJ] said reporters face unprecedented threats in President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's Egypt. 

Egypt currently had the highest number of journalists behind bars since CPJ began keeping records in 1990, it declared.

It said the threat of imprisonment in Egypt is part of a stifling atmosphere in which authorities pressure media outlets to censor critical voices and issue gag orders on sensitive topics.