Egypt releases news editor after over 2 years in detention

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities released the editor of an independent news website after more than two years in pre-trial detention, the head of Journalists’ Union said.

Diaa Rashwan said Adel Sabri, editor of the Masr al-Arabia website, was freed late on Monday, after he had been held for the maximum pre-trial detention period under the law.

Sabri, who arrived at his home in Cairo in a police vehicle, was released pending an investigation into accusations that include disseminating false news and joining an outlawed group, said Rashwan.

The website reported Sabri’s release, saying it came a few days before the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Sabri was arrested in April 2018 after his website published an Arabic translation of a New York Times report, which said voters in Egypt’s presidential elections at the time were offered cash, food and promises of better services in exchange of taking part in the vote.

In that vote, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi overwhelmingly won a second, four-year term in office. He faced no serious competition since a string of potentially strong candidates had been arrested or pressured into withdrawing.

Last year, Egypt approved constitutional amendments allowing el-Sissi, a general turned president, to stay in power possibly until 2030. The move has drawn criticism from rights groups and pro-democracy movements.

El-Sissi has wagged the heaviest crackdown on dissent in the country’s modern history. Unauthorized protests have been outlawed, thousands of Islamists and prominent secular activists have been jailed, critics silenced and hundreds of independent websites blocked.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has ranked Egypt the third worst jailer of journalists, after China and Turkey.