An Egyptian human rights lawyer is freed after nearly 4 years in prison

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An Egyptian judge Monday ordered the release of a human rights lawyer held in preventive detention for nearly four years for backing a French protest movement, a rights group said.

Mohamed Ramadan, 47, was arrested in September 2018 after posting on Facebook a picture of himself wearing a yellow vest in support of the "yellow vest" protest movement that was rocking France at the time, the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) said in a statement.

He was accused of "terrorism" and placed in preventive detention — a punishment that can last two years in Egypt and during which suspects are held without trial.

But when that term ended in 2020, Ramadan was accused of "spreading fake news" and again placed in a two-year preventive detention, the rights group said.

His announced release Monday comes just days after French President Emmanuel Macron received his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Paris.

During Friday’s meeting focusing on security and defence ties, the two leaders also "addressed the issue of human rights", Macron’s office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Monday it was "alarmed" by reports that a prominent jailed activist, Ahmed Douma, had been "tortured" last week for having requested that a fellow inmate receive medical care.

Douma reportedly demanded that the authorities provide health services to Ahmed Samir, a researcher sentenced to four years in prison in June 2021 for "spreading false news on social media" — an accusation frequently levelled at dissidents in Egypt.

Cairo has faced frequent criticism for its human rights record, with rights groups saying there are currently about 60,000 political prisoners, many facing brutal conditions and overcrowded cells.

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