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Egypt pardons prisoners on Sinai liberation anniversary

An Egyptian man embraces his parents following his release from prison in Cairo on March 14, 2017, along with 202 other prisoners who received a presidential pardon. [ALY FAHIM/AFP via Getty Images]
An Egyptian man embraces his parents following his release from prison in Cairo on March 14, 2017, along with 202 other prisoners who received a presidential pardon. [ALY FAHIM/AFP via Getty Images]

The Egyptian authorities have pardoned 3,273 prisoners to commemorate Sinai Liberation Day on 25 April, the interior ministry in Cairo has announced.

According to a ministry statement, the releases result from President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's decision "to reactivate the Presidential Pardon Committee." It added that it will work "in cooperation with relevant state agencies and civil society organisations" to carry this out.

The committee was formed in October 2016 and is reported to have facilitated the release of thousands of prisoners. The new membership is said to include the deputy chairperson of the parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Mohamed Abdel-Aziz; Karim El-Sakka, a member of the original committee; human rights lawyer Tarek El-Awady; and Egypt's former manpower minister, Kamal Abu Eita.

The move came hours after Sisi's order on Tuesday during an Iftar event for there to be "a national dialogue with all political forces without exception or discrimination."

The head of the opposition Reform and Development Party, Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat, said on Facebook that a total of 41 pre-trial political detainees were released after the pardon announcement.

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