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Egypt: Prisoners offered amnesty in exchange for PR appearance, says report

According to Mada Masr, dozens detained in Egypt have been promised early release if they participate in a conference with President Sisi next month
An Egyptian police officer at the entrance of the Tora prison, Cairo, 11 February 2020 (AFP)

Dozens of prisoners in Egypt have reportedly been offered amnesty in exchange for participating in a scripted conference with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi planned in Tora prison next month, a local independent publication reported on Sunday.

According to Mada Masr, three lawyers representing detainees in the Tora, Minya and Wadi al-Natrun prisons had been informed by their clients that officials from Egypt’s National Security Agency had reached out to hundreds of prisoners, offering early release should they agree to speak about incarceration conditions in a favourable light during the conference.

Dozens of prisoners have reportedly been transferred from Minya and Wadi al-Natrun to Tora ahead of the conference planned for early October.

Those allegedly scheduled to receive amnesty reportedly include Islamists and other political prisoners - amid longstanding accusations of a crackdown on political opposition under Sisi.

A government source also told Mada Masr that a number of amnesties were expected around 18 October, which marks Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. A number of prisoners had previously been released this summer ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

Middle East Eye could not independently verify the report.

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The president denied on Wednesday that the country had any political prisoners, adding: “There are no forms of human rights violations in Egypt.” 

Sisi said last week that he was poised to launch “a full American-style” prison that will be followed by "seven or eight" other similar projects across the country.

The new project will take the number of prisons in Egypt to 79. More than a third of them - 27 in total - have been built under Sisi, who became president in 2014 after a military coup toppled his democratically elected predecessor Mohamed Morsi a year earlier.

Rights groups have accused his government of jailing some 60,000 activists and political opponents under the pretext of fighting terrorism.

In March, a UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) statement decried Egypt's stifling of dissent, in a country considered the world's third-worst jailer of journalists behind China and Turkey.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.