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Egypt to release new round of prisoners today as 60,000 remain behind bars

Watch towers at Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo. [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images]
Watch towers at Tora prison in the Egyptian capital Cairo 15 September 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

A source from inside the National Council of Human Rights has told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that a presidential pardon will be issued today for another group of prisoners in Egypt to mark Sinai Liberation Day and the Muslim celebration of Eid El-Fitr.

The news comes after the Egyptian government released 41 prisoners from pretrial detention over the weekend after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said that the country needs to engage in "political dialogue."

Also over the weekend the Egyptian government released nine Coptic Christians who were arrested after they protested to demand that a church be rebuilt in Minya governorate.

It's thought that Egyptian authorities are under increasing pressure to clean up their human rights reputation after news of the death of prominent economist Ayman Hadhoud, who is thought to have been tortured to death by state security, hit international headlines.

Hadhoud died on 5 March but the family were not told until 10 April, a month after he passed away, when they were asked to come and collect his body.

The government has said that he died from a chronic heart condition and that his death is not suspicious.

 Egypt: Images circulate showing signs of torture on Ayman Hadhoud's body

Al-Araby's source said that the news indicates that the Egyptian regime is in a major crisis due to several factors, including the Russian war on Ukraine, which has affected its wheat supply and flow of tourists to the country.

Egypt's economy was already on its knees with the price of basic commodities rising even though a third of the country live below the poverty line.

At the end of March, Egypt turned to the IMF for the third time in six years to apply for a loan, a sign that the cash strapped nation is seriously struggling.

There are roughly 60,000 political prisoners in Egypt who live in squalid conditions including lack of access to sunlight and little food.

Political prisoners are systematically tortured and denied medical care and the rate of death penalties being issued has soared.

Critics of the government say the releases over the weekend are not enough, especially since the government has stipulated that no one accused of terror charges or acting in a way that is harmful to the government or those who organised demonstrations will be eligible for release.

Rights defenders and government critics are often held on terror charges, including Alaa Abdel Fattah and his lawyer Mohamed El-Baqer who have been accused of "joining a terror group."

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