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Saad Eddin Ibrahim Freed on Bail

7 August 2000

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) 14 August 2000 — Prosecutors have decided to free a prominent Egyptian-American human rights activist who had been held without charge for more than a month, his lawyer said Thursday.

But attorney Farid el-Dib said the wide-ranging investigation of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an outspoken critic of the Egyptian government, would continue and that he had been ordered to post $2,600 bail.

Still, the decision to free Ibrahim was welcome. His wife, Barbara, said Ibrahim’s spirits were high and he felt ‘vindicated’.’

‘I hope that he will be back at home tonight,’ Barbara Ibrahim said.

‘I’m pleased to see Mr. Saad Eddin out of this dilemma,’ el-Dib said. ‘I will continue defending him. I believe the accusations made against him cannot stand in any court of justice.’

El-Dib said his release would be processed back at the Cairo prison. A smiling, waving Ibrahim was later seen being taken in a truck to the prison. Prosecutors had no immediate comment.

El-Dib spoke outside the prosecutor’s office where his client had been brought Thursday from prison for questioning, as he has been every 15 days since his June 30 arrest. At every other review hearing, the 61-year-old Ibrahim’s detention had been extended, as it could be for up to six months without trial under Egyptian law.

Amnesty International and other groups have protested the detention of Ibrahim, an outspoken critic of Egypt’s lack of democracy and the founder of an internationally known Cairo-based think tank that has tackled some of the most sensitive issues in this country.

On Monday, the State Department urged Egypt to free Ibrahim, saying he may have been detained because of his advocacy for human rights.

‘The case of Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim is … strictly a judicial matter,’ Osama el-Baz, President Hosni Mubarak’s chief political adviser, said at a news conference Wednesday. ‘We are not trying to muzzle any opposition or to … intimidate any activists.’

Ibrahim has said he has been questioned about whether he accepted foreign money without government permission and forged ballots for a documentary film about elections that allegedly would have tarnished Egypt’s image.

His lawyers said this week that another accusation, perhaps the most serious, had surfaced: whether Ibrahim, who holds Egyptian and U.S. citizenship, had spied for the United States.

It was the first detention of such a prominent government critic in years.