CAIRO: Thirteen Cairo activists who were detained on April 6 were released on bail Monday, after spending almost one month behind bars.
Families and friends had been expecting their release Sunday, after a hearing that incited demonstrations outside the court. A day later, however, they were still waiting for a verdict to be issued.
With Sunday’s national strike overwhelmingly considered a ‘flop,’ lawyers had no doubts that, with overt national anger subdued, the detainees would be freed.
“It shouldn’t be more than a matter of hours, Ihab El Khouly, one of their lawyers and President of the Ghad party, told Daily News Egypt a few hours before their release. “We didn’t take part in the strike [Sunday], so there is no reason for the government to keep them behind bars.
Meanwhile, a few stanch Ghad party members continued to protest in the lobby of Attaba Court as they waited anxiously for the 13 young activists to appear.
Hossam Shehata, Ghad secretary for Helwan and a former military officer, also expressed positive sentiments, despite his reservations, that “there is a possibility they could be rearrested by the Interior Ministry.
Shehata, who has been relentlessly campaigning on their behalf for the past month, yesterday donned a black cape with a yellow comb stuck in his gelled black hair and shouted at security forces and passersby. Having stuck the pictures and names of the arrested on the rear wall, he sat in a chair in the court lobby, adopting the pose of a barber’s customer.
“In Arabic, to shave also means to ignore. We as a people are ignored by Mubarak and his cold regime. Two of those due to be released, Walid Salah and Osama Ezz El-Arab, were originally ordered released by the Prosecutor General shortly after their arrest. However, they were promptly rearrested by state security. This proves that state security is not there to protect the people, but [to protect] the regime.
“Two weeks ago I was also arrested for campaigning outside the court with a fellow activist, Medhat Shawky. Their accusations were petty, saying we had committed the offense of bringing chairs and blankets outside the court.
“Although we were released on bail we were immediately rearrested by the Ministry of the Interior. When we were eventually released the state security took us to the Alexandria Desert road and left us there.
Fellow Ghad member and script writer Rami Yehia celebrated his freedom by proceeding to the court to offer his support for his fellow detainees.
Yehia was released at 1 am yesterday morning, despite having paid LE 1,000 in bail two weeks earlier.
“I was released on bail two weeks ago, and should have been let go straight away, but I was illegally detained, Yehia told Daily News Egypt. “When my release was finally confirmed I was taken to Lazoghly [State Security], where I was held for 18 hours with old-time prisoners from Islamic extremist groups.
Yehia was finally moved to Al-Mosky police station, where his lawyers met him and demanded his release.