Sisi pardons 560 prisoners

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Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi pardoned 560 prisoners, the majority accused of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, two judicial sources said.

Of those pardoned, 482 were imprisoned on charges related to the Brotherhood, a decades-old Islamist political movement with a mass following.

A prominent journalist, Abdel Halim Qandil, sentenced in 2017 to three years in prison on charges of insulting the judiciary, was among those pardoned.

The pardoned prisoners included two women who organised demonstrations outside metro stations last year after fare hikes.

The prisoners were expected to be released on Friday. The pardons were announced in the official gazette.

The Brotherhood won the first free elections after the 2011 uprising that ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, but was toppled by the army after a year in power.

Since then, the group has been banned and hundreds of followers jailed. The Brotherhood says it is a non-violent movement and denies any relationship to violent insurgencies waged by al Qaeda and Islamic State militants.

Rights activists say Sisi has overseen a relentless crackdown on dissent in Egypt since 2014. At least 60,000 people have been jailed on political grounds, according to a Human Rights Watch estimate.

Sisi has denied holding political prisoners and backers say the measures are necessary to stabilise Egypt after its 2011 uprising.