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Egypt releases batch of political prisoners following Biden-Sisi meeting in Jeddah

July 18, 2022 at 8:01 pm

US President Joe Biden (C-R) and Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) meet with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C-L), Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri (L) in Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah on July 16, 2022 [MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]

Only hours after US President Joe Biden met Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, in Jeddah on Saturday, Egypt has released a number of political prisoners who were held in pre-trial detention.

Amid demands by local and international human rights groups, the Egyptian State recently formed a Presidential Pardon Committee that has mediated the release of several batches of political prisoners. But human rights defenders say only small batches are released out of more than 60,000 political prisoners who are still behind bars.

The recent batch came shortly after Sisi met Biden in the Jeddah Security and Development Summit.

Biden has faced pressure from Egyptian and international human rights activists over the US’s arms supplies to the Egyptian State.

Last January, the United States cancelled $130 million in military aid for Egypt over concerns about Egypt’s human rights record under Sisi, who has launched the most severe crackdown on opponents in the country’s modern history since he became President in 2014. But the US decision to cancel this aid package came only days after it approved $2.5 billion in arms sales to the country, a massive amount that resulted in outrage among human rights activists.

READ: US president must demand real progress on human rights in Saudi, Egypt, rights groups say