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Prominent Egyptian activist released from prison

Seif was jailed in May only months after she was freed by a presidential pardon in another case
A photo of Ammar Abo Bakr as he worked on his mural of Sanaa Seif in Rome (MEE/Giovanni Piazzese)

Egyptian political activist Sanaa Seif was released on Tuesday after serving six months for "insulting a member of the prosecution".

She had been caught up in a renewed crackdown on dissidents who had called for protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for handing over two Red Sea islands - Tiran and Sanafir - to Saudi Arabia.

Last week, an Egyptian court upheld a ruling by a lower tribunal that annulled Sisi's decision.

Seif and dozens of other protesters were arrested shortly before a protest on 25 April in Cairo which ended with police dispersing the rally using tear gas and detaining more activists.

Seif's conviction stems from a summons on suspicion of inciting protests. She did not attend and was charged with "insulting a member of the prosecution", a judicial official said at the time.

Although the verdict could have been appealed after it was issued in May, Seif refused to contest it. Instead, she handed herself in.

"Simply, I do not have the energy to deal with their measures," she said in a Facebook post at the time.

Seif, whose older brother Alaa Abdel Fattah is currently serving a five-year prison term, was jailed in May only months after she was freed by a presidential pardon in another case.

Seif had been pardoned last October after she was imprisoned for a 2014 protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo.                               

She was initially arrested on 21 June 2014 along with 22 other people for taking part in a demonstration against the controversial protest law that came into force at the end of 2013 and bans public protests that take place without police notification. In October that year, Seif and the other defendants were sentenced to three years in jail.

Who is Sanaa Seif?

The first major protest Seif attended was a rally on behalf of Khaled Said, a young Egyptian who was brutally beaten to death by policemen in Alexandria in June 2010.

Her involvement in activism stemmed primarily from there, and she then developed a keen interest in the poor living conditions of her fellow countrymen.

Although Seif was only 17-years-old when the 2011 uprisings burst onto the streets of Egypt, she became, to many Egyptians, a symbol of resistance and revolutionary spirit.

In the past five years Sanaa’s face has become an icon to revolutionaries who were part of the Tahrir Square protests in Cairo.

But while Seif is now free, Egyptian police have killed hundreds of protesters and arrested thousands of others since Sisi lead a military coup that overthrew President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.