Journalist Esraa Abdel-Fattah, a symbol of the 2011 revolution and five other Egyptian activists were on Sunday freed by president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi just days after U.S. warned Cairo over a crackdown on rights activists.
The United States had on Wednesday warned Egypt not to target rights campaigners saying the issue would be a factor in arms sales to its Arab ally.
Esraa Abdel Fattah charged with “spreading false news” and collaborating with a terrorist group and release after nearly 22 months in pre-trial detention has a long history of activism and played a prominent role in the 2011 protests which helped overthrow the decades-long rule of President Hosni Mubarak.
She was one of the first Egyptian activists to use social media to help organise anti-government demonstrations, earning her the nickname “Facebook Girl”.
Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power in 2014, the former army chief has overseen an unprecedented sweeping crackdown on dissent as described by human rights groups.
Her release was ordered on Saturday along with Abdel Nasser Ismail, leader of the Popular Alliance party, and Gamal El-Gammal, a journalist and opposition figure.
Surprisingly on Sunday, an order was announced for the release of prominent lawyer and rights activist, Mahienour El-Masri and journalists Motaz Wadnan and Mostafa El-Asar.