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Egypt frees 578 prisoners after presidential amnesty

Prisoners are seen during a court case in Cairo on 28 July 2018 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]
Prisoners are seen during a court case in Cairo on 28 July 2018 [Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images]

Egypt's interior ministry has released 578 prisoners who were offered amnesty or conditional pardons.

The ministry said in a statement that the prison service has been examining prisoners' files to determine those entitled to be pardoned and released prior to completing their sentences.

This comes in accordance with a presidential decree that ordered the pardoning of a number of prisoners to commemorate the 6th of October Victory (also known as the Yom Kippur War), which is a national holiday in Egypt.

Some 237 prisoners were granted amnesty, while 341 were handed conditional pardons.

Since the 2011 revolution, tens of thousands of Egyptians have been thrown in jail after the country witnessed a dramatic suppression of freedom and an increase in regulatory legislation; action justified by the government as necessary for "national security". The Muslim Brotherhood party, which played an instrumental role in the revolution and was subsequently elected to power, has since been banned and declared a terrorist group.

READ: Egypt disappearing, torturing children

The Egyptian government has also launched a crackdown on anyone suspected of opposing President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi or his policies and has implemented laws that affect vocal media organisations, journalists and NGOs.

In the Sinai, where the Egyptian military is targeting militants and Daesh cells, the government has promoted the narrative that its counter-insurgency efforts are successful and heroic. However, it has severely restricted access to the region for media and human rights workers seeking to monitor the situation in the eastern province, and has moved to punish anyone who deviates from the official line.

READ: 40 human rights workers arrested since October 2018, says HRW

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