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Egypt’s military ruler decreed on Saturday the release of 1,955 detainees held by military prosecutors, including blogger Maikel Nabil, who has been in detention since March 2011.
Nabil’s lawyer, Maged Hanna, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that on Saturday he visited Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, who called the Tora Prison authorities about Nabil's release. He pointed out that the decree says the 1,955 detainees will be set free on 26 January
Hanna said the date was probably chosen due to authorities’ fears that the detainees might take part in the planned 25 January protests, but is also a gesture to mark the revolution’s first anniversary. The released detainees will not be subjected to any fines, he said.
In December, a military court sentenced Nabil, who was charged with insulting the armed forces, publishing false news and disturbing public security, to two years in prison and a fine of LE200.
The ruling by the Supreme Military Court of Appeals followed an appeal of an earlier verdict that sentenced Nabil to three years in prison. Since it was a military trial, the verdict could not be appealed again.
The 26-year-old blogger has been on a hunger strike for more than 130 days to protest his detention and trial, and he has been surviving on water and milk. Over the past month, activists have staged protests and organized campaigns demanding his release.
Nabil wrote a blog post in March titled "The army and the people weren't ever one hand," questioning the role of the military in the revolution and condemning its takeover, while citing incidents in which the military was involved in arresting and torturing activists during the 18-day uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
Nabil Sanad, Nabil’s father, expressed gratitude to the media outlets and civil society organizations that have backed Nabil since he was detained.
In December the International Federation of Liberal Youth granted Nabil its Freedom Award in recognition of his “firm commitment to freedom.”
The founder of the New Ghad Party, Ayman Nour, tweeted that he was glad to hear of Nabil’s release, adding that the Egyptian revolution will continue towards victory.
Meanwhile, Alaa Abdel Fattah, a blogger who was released by military prosecutors in December, tweeted a demand for a general amnesty for all prisoners tried in exceptional tribunals since 1952 and the dropping of all charges against them. Abdel Fattah reiterated a recurrent demand by activists to stop prosecuting civilians before military courts.
Human rights reports had revealed that nearly 15,000 people were referred to military tribunals since the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, assumed power in February.