Egypt pardons hundreds of people jailed for demonstrating

An Egyptian anti-military demonstrator runs for cover from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes in Tahrir square in Cairo on November 19, 2013: (Mohamed El-Shahed/AFP)
Updated 16 May 2018
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Egypt pardons hundreds of people jailed for demonstrating

  • Officials say 332 people were pardoned, most of them convicted and imprisoned for breaking a controversial law that prohibits unapproved demonstrations

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi has pardoned more than 330 young people, most of them convicted and jailed for their participation in illegal protests.
The announcement came in a tweet on Wednesday.
Officials say 332 people were pardoned, most of them convicted and imprisoned for breaking a controversial law that prohibits unapproved demonstrations.
They say secular activists Andrew Nassef of the unofficial leftist Bread and Freedom Party, and Islam Fouad of the opposition Dostour (Constitution) party were among those pardoned.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters, say both Nassef and Fouad were sentenced for illegal protesting.
Egypt outlawed all unauthorized protests in 2013 after the military overthrew an Islamist president amid mass protests against his divisive rule.


Iraq orders probe after voting machines fail hacking test

Iraqi PM Haider Abadi having his biometric voting card checked with his fingerprint upon arriving at a poll station in the capital Baghdad's Karrada district, as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over Daesh. AFP
Updated 5 min ago
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Iraq orders probe after voting machines fail hacking test

  • The Cabinet decided to form a commission “to study reports and information on the electoral process”
  • Multiple candidates and parties are expected to appeal the results of Iraq’s first poll since the defeat of Daesh

BAGHDAD: Iraqi authorities have launched an inquiry into this month’s parliamentary elections after intelligence services found that the voting machines used were vulnerable to hacking.
The May 12 poll delivered a shock win for populist cleric Moqtada Sadr, who faces a huge task to form a governing coalition despite winning the most seats in Parliament.
But with the results yet to be ratified by Iraq’s Supreme Court, a government official told Parliament on Thursday that intelligence services had conducted tests which showed it was possible to hack voting machines and manipulate the results.
The Cabinet decided to form a commission “to study reports and information on the electoral process” and make recommendations, Prime Minister Haider Abadi said in a televised address.
Experts said the probe could lead to anything from local recounts to the entire vote being annulled.
Multiple candidates and parties are expected to appeal the results of Iraq’s first poll since the defeat of Daesh.
Limited recounts have already been ordered in the flashpoint multi-ethnic province of Kirkuk, where clashes between communities prompted authorities to impose an overnight curfew.
The International Crisis Group said on Thursday it was “deeply concerned” about the possibility of further inter-ethnic violence there and called for a recount “to restore confidence in the institutions vital to manage deeper divisions over the contested, oil-rich area.”

More air raids on Daesh
Iraq meanwhile announced on Friday it had carried out airstrikes against Daesh in Syria, the third cross border aerial operation inside a month in its war-torn neighbor.
“Iraqi F-16 planes carried out (Thursday) morning raids against the headquarters of IS (Daesh) terrorist gang leaders and an explosives depot occupied by terrorists in Syria’s Hajjin region,” a statement by Iraq’s operations command said.
A video released with the text shows a strike on a huge building surrounded by palm trees and a wall.
The images show the wall and the building collapsing simultaneously.
Several strikes have been carried out by Iraq or the international coalition since Thursday against the center of Hajjin, the last major area held by Daesh in Syria, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.
At least 65 senior Daesh leaders live in Hajjin, the Observatory’s director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Hajjin is in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria, about 50 km from Iraq’s border.
It has been surrounded since the end of 2017 by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by the US and France, Abdel Rahman said.
Several hundred prisoners are still held by the militants in Hajjin, he added.
Since April, Iraq’s air force has carried out several airstrikes on Daesh-held Syrian territory close to the border between the two countries.
Daesh seized a third of Iraq in 2014, before the government declared victory in December, but the military has continued regular operations along the porous Syrian border.