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Award-winning blogger released from prison

CAIRO: On Thursday, award-winning blogger Alaa Seif Al Islam was released from his detention. Al Islam was arrested on May 7, during a sit-in downtown. According to a friend, Al Islam was in good spirits following his release, joking that he would see him at the next demonstration. However, reports before his release suggested that …


CAIRO: On Thursday, award-winning blogger Alaa Seif Al Islam was released from his detention. Al Islam was arrested on May 7, during a sit-in downtown. According to a friend, Al Islam was in good spirits following his release, joking that he would see him at the next demonstration.

However, reports before his release suggested that he was beaten at Omraneya police station in Giza. According to a source within the police station, Al Islam was “hit a few times by a few criminals that were in the cell with him.

“He was placed in a cell while we put his papers through and he got hit a few times by the people there . we regret that we put him there, says an official at the police station.

Activists disagree with the officer’s statement, saying that he was beaten and forced to stand all night by police, who were slow on putting his paperwork through for his release on Wednesday.

“He informed his wife, who was able to see him [before his release], that since he arrived [at Omraneya police station] last night he has been standing or barely sitting and is subject to beating, pushing and verbal abuse and is deprived of sleep, says democracy activist Bassem Khalifa before his release. Al-Islam and his wife, Manal, maintain a website, www.manalaa.net, in which they distribute information concerning the actions of the government and the opposition groups in the country. Al-Islam has won international awards for his blog.

Ahmed El Droubi, a pro-democracy activist and member of Kefaya (Enough), says that Alaa is now spending time with his wife and is happy to be out of prison.”It is a good moment for them as well as the opposition, El Droubi says. “He has become a symbol for us to move forward.

Thursday also saw the release of Ibrahim El Sahary, a socialist journalist, Wael Khalil and Kamal Khalil. According to El Sahary, the rest of the detainees were also released. Mohamed El Sharkawy and Karim El Shaer remain in detention. The two were arrested on May 25, following a demonstration at the journalists syndicate. Their detention was extended another 15 days this week.

Activists welcomed the release of their fellow activists as a sign that the movement is able to continue and move forward after the last few months which were marked by violent backlashes from the government.

Yet, with El Sharkawy and El Shaer still in prison, there is still much concern. “From the beginning, it was clear that there is an enmity between the defense lawyers and the prosecution. Releasing opinion prisoners was an attempt to calm the national and the international public opinion, it came as a result of the efforts done to spot lights on the violations against freedom of expression in Egypt, though the violations still being committed says Gamal Abdel Aziz Eid, a human rights lawyer, in a statement.

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