Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abdel Fattah has been released from custody after being held since October 30 and missing the birth of his first child, according to his sister, activist Mona Seif, and a judicial officer. Abdel Fattah was accused of inciting violence on October 9, when Coptic Christians demonstrated in Cairo. 25 people, most of whom were Copts protesting the burning of a church in the southern city of Aswan, were killed in clashes with security forces.
A picture posted by Mona Seif shows Abdel Fattah holding his new-born son Khaled on his release.
Abdel Fattah had spoken out against the violence against demonstrators; multiple witness reports as well as video footage confirmed this. He had refused to be questioned by military prosecutors, on the grounds that the military itself was implicated in the violence, and was also accused of stealing a military weapon, vandalizing military property and attacking security forces. Witnesses said that the military had fired on them and had driven armored vehicles into demonstrators, killing them. The military contends that three of its own soldiers were killed and denies using excessive force.
In newspaper articles smuggled out of jail, Abdel Fattah said that his arrest had largely occurred because of his insistence that autopsies of dead protesters be carried out.
According to the Guardian, Abdel Fattah’s case was given to a civilian judge. The activist had not been formally charged and the reason for his release has yet to be announced.
The detention of Abdel Fattah, who is from an activist family, drew global condemnation. Activists have said that his arrest is a further example of how the generals who have been ruling Egypt since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak are simply continuing to follow the same authoritarian policies.
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Photo by Ramy Raoof