Essam and Mursi released, but face threat of house arrest

Dr. Essam el-Erian and Dr. Muhammad Mursi have been finally released today from prison, but they were put under house arrest by the State Security Prosecutor.

I spoke with Dr. Essam an hour ago, to tell him “Kaffara ya doctor.” He said he will be standing in court tomorrow 10am at the Tagamou’ el-Khames Court, where he’ll contest in front of a judge the house detention order.

UPDATE: The court lifted the house arrest:

Two top Muslim Brotherhood leaders freed in Egypt
By Cynthia Johnston
CAIRO, Dec 10 (Reuters) – A Cairo court on Sunday set free two leading members of the banned Muslim Brotherhood detained since anti-government protests in May, overruling a move by prosecutors to keep them under house arrest.
Essam el-Erian and Muhammad Mursi were the two most senior Brotherhood officials in detention. Erian is the head of the group’s political department and Mursi is a leading Brotherhood politician.
Judicial sources and the Brotherhood said the men were released from prison late on Saturday following a decision by prosecutors, but they were to be kept under house arrest.
On Sunday, the Brotherhood challenged the house arrest and a court ordered it to be lifted. Mursi, speaking to Reuters shortly after the court ruling, said the decision to cancel the  house arrest was “an achievement for the Egyptian judiciary”.
“This decision (to release us) should have been taken months ago,” he said. “The case that we were subject to contained no serious accusations. It was a political case of the first degree.”
Although officially banned, the Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt’s strongest opposition movement. Members elected as independents hold about one-fifth of seats in parliament, which is dominated by President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party.
Erian and Mursi had been held since they were arrested in May during protests in support of Egyptian judges demanding greater independence from the executive.
Political analysts said the move by prosecutors to impose house arrest appeared to be an unsuccessful attempt to find a loophole in Egyptian law that would help authorities to maintain restrictions on detainees even after their release.
While prosecutors may renew detentions every 15 days, they cannot generally do so indefinitely and detainees must eventually either be put on trial or set free.
Indefinite detention is generally reserved for detainees viewed as security threats.
“I think they were giving it a good try to establish this precedent of house arrest,” said Muhammad el-Sayed Said, deputy director of Egypt’s Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“I have never heard of this practice before of the government putting someone under house arrest … Fortunately it wasn’t (successful). It is an obvious infringement of fundamental human rights.”

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