Egypt orders release of a lawyer in solitary confinement

Egyptians shout slogans against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi during a protest against the decision to hand over control of two strategic Red Sea islands (File, Amr Nabil - AP).
Egyptians shout slogans against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi during a protest against the decision to hand over control of two strategic Red Sea islands (File, Amr Nabil - AP).

Cairo — An Egyptian court on Thursday ordered the release of a prominent rights lawyer held in solitary confinement for more than 100 days after he raised a legal challenge to a decision by the country's president to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.

However, the decision to free Malek Adly was immediately challenged by prosecutors. Adly will remain in prison until the court makes a final decision, expected on Saturday, said one of his lawyers, Mahmoud Belal.

Adly has been held without formal charge, kept in prison on a rolling series of administrative detention orders every 15 days since his arrest in May. According to the state investigators, Adly is suspected of participating in meetings with Islamists to wage a campaign against the state and spread false information that the Red Sea islands were essentially sold off in exchange for much-needed Saudi financial support

Throughout, he has been kept in solitary confinement with almost no communication with the outside world, sleeping on a bare floor in conditions that his lawyers say amount to torture. Supporters say that he was a victim of a personal vendetta after he essentially insulted Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi in a televised interview.

Adly was among a group of lawyers who raised a court case against el-Sisi's decision in April to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. The lawyers argued that the islands were historically Egypt's, while the government said they were Saudi territory that had only temporarily placed under Egyptian protection.

The decision sparked a wave of protests that were met with hundreds of arrests. El-Sisi has repeatedly saying that all discussion of the islands issue must stop. At the time, Adly appeared on a TV talk show with documents he said showed Egypt's sovereignty and proclaiming, "The person who gives up an inch of Egyptian soil is a traitor," seen as an implicit insult of el-Sisi.

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