Egyptian authorities to release 91 'Palacegate' protesters
The Egyptian Supreme State Security Prosecution service (SSSP) has ordered the release of 91 people arrested for protesting against the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in September 2019, Egyptian human rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced on Wednesday.
The detainees had been arrested following the ‘Palacegate’ protests, which followed revelations by construction contractor Mohammed Ali that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi had used public funds to construct luxurious palaces for himself and his family at a time when poverty rates were increasing in Egypt and austerity measures were being imposed on the public.
Thousands of people took part in the September protests in Tahrir Square and other locations across Egypt. The authorities responded with a massive crackdown, arresting activists, lawyers, and protesters.
A total of 2816 people remain in detention following the crackdown according to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. In addition, 339 people are missing, with their fate unknown.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has ruled Egypt with an iron fist ever since deposing Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the late Mohammed Morsi, in a military coup in June 2013. Tens of thousands of political opponents have been arrested since then.
In September, Mohammed Ali gained a massive following on social media after he published videos revealing details of Sisi’s corruption and calling on Egyptians to take to the streets to depose the autocratic president.
Sisi did not deny Ali’s accusations but said that he was building palaces for the state, not himself, and would continue to “build and build and build”.
However Ali announced that he would retire from political life after Egyptians failed to protest against Sisi on 25 January 2020, the ninth anniversary of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.