Egypt frees businessman, son after 2 years in prison

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CAIRO (AP) – Egyptian authorities have freed a prominent businessman and his son after more than two years in custody while officials investigated possible terrorism-related charges, his family said.

Safwan Thabet, founder and former CEO of milk and juice producer Juhayna Food Industries, and his son Seif el-Din Thabet went for a free walk late Saturday, the family said.

“My father Safwan Thabet and my brother Seif el-Din Thabet are with us,” wrote Mariam Thabet’s daughter on Facebook. She later posted photos showing her hugging her father and brother.

State media also reported on their release, but there was no official comment.

The authorities arrested Safwan Thabet in December 2020 and he remained in custody pending investigations into allegations that he had helped finance a terrorist group – a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has banned as a terrorist organisation.

According to the state-run daily Al-Ahram, his son Seif was arrested two months later on the same charges, which included harming the country’s economy.

No man was ever brought to justice.

The release of the two men was the latest in a series of releases by pro-democracy activists and government critics in recent months.

Over the past year, Egypt has released or pardoned dozens of detainees as the country’s human rights record came under international scrutiny when it hosted the UN climate summit in November . The government also entered into a dialogue with its critics.

The Egyptian government has been relentless in suppressing dissent, using arrests, detentions, prison sentences and other restrictions on independent organizations.

The Associated Press

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