Egypt Frees Detained Activist Ramy Shaath after More Than 900 Days

Egypt has released Egyptian-Palestinian rights activist Ramy Shaath from more than 900 days of detention after forcing him to renounce his Egyptian nationality, his family announced on Saturday.

Shaath was a member of several Egyptian political groups and a co-founder of Egypt’s pro-Palestinian BDS movement. He was freed on Jan. 6 and handed to a representative of the Palestinian Authority in Cairo before being flown to Jordan.

Shaath flew to France from Jordan on Saturday. Celine Lebrun Shaath, Shaath’s wife who was expelled from Egypt following her husband’s arrest, had lobbied the French government to press Egypt to release him.

Ramy Kamel, a prominent Coptic Christian activist charged in Egypt with joining a terrorist group and spreading false news, was also freed on Saturday following a decision by the public prosecutor.

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There was no immediate comment from Egyptian authorities on the releases.

“If we are glad that the Egyptian authorities heard our call for freedom, we regret that they forced Ramy to renounce his Egyptian citizenship as a precondition for his release that should have been unconditional,” the Shaath’s family said in a statement.

In June 2019, Shaath was arrested and held in pre-trial detention along with other activists on accusations of aiding terrorists.

The detention came amid a continued crackdown on political dissent under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, which has included liberal critics as well as Islamists belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose ouster Sisi led in 2013.

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According to Sisi and supporters, Egypt has no political prisoners, and security measures have been necessary to stabilize the country after the 2011 uprising.

A year after President Emmanuel Macron said that he had raised the case of Shaath with Sisi, several NGOs questioned him last month about the fate of Shaath.

At the time, Macron had stated that human rights would not be a condition of economic and military ties with Cairo.

The French government said in May it would sell 30 Rafale warplanes to Egypt from 2024 in a 4 billion euro ($4.8 billion) deal, strengthening its partnership with Cairo.

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