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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 11:31 GMT
Egypt scholar celebrates release
Saad Eddin Ibrahim hugs his American wife Barbara
Ibrahim: "I thank God for my release"
An outspoken scholar jailed for "tarnishing Egypt's image" has been released from prison a day after he was granted a re-trial.

I hope I don't come back - except as a visitor

Saad Eddin Ibrahim
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, 63, who human rights groups say was imprisoned for political reasons, was greeted by his wife, daughter and grand-daughter as he left Egypt's Tora prison.

"I thank God for my release. My trust in the Egyptian judiciary has been restored," he said.

The Egyptian-American sociology professor was originally tried with 27 other people, all of whom have been granted new hearings after pressure from domestic and international human rights groups.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim on his release
Ibrahim hoped he would not return as an inmate
"I want to take my wife, children and grandchildren under my arms all night," said Dr Ibrahim, who suffers from a degenerative neurological condition.

A prominent campaigner for democratic and women's rights, Ibrahim told reporters that conditions Egypt's Tora prison had improved since he visited it 30 years ago as a researcher.

"I hope I don't come back - except as a visitor," he said, thanking the prison staff for taking care of his health.

The American University of Cairo, where Ibrahim has taught for over 25 years, said he would resume teaching this semester.

Fraud claims

Saad Eddin Ibrahim was sentenced to seven years in prison by a state security court on 21 May 2001.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim behind bars
Ibrahim's think-tank accused the government of vote-rigging
Charges included tarnishing Egypt's image, embezzlement and accepting foreign money without government approval.

He has said he was prosecuted because the Ibn Khaldun centre, an independent think tank he established in 1982, published reports accusing the government of rigging the 1995 parliamentary elections.

Sara Hamood of Amnesty International said the London-based group would monitor the new trial - for which a date has not been set - at the Supreme State Security Court.

"We still believe it's politically motivated and has been used as a pretext to punish people who criticise government policy," she said.

Ibrahim, who was born in Egypt and studied and taught in the United States, holds both Egyptian and American citizenship.

The scholar's wife, son and daughter campaigned for his release on the internet and in official circles in the United States and Egypt.

See also:

06 Feb 02 | Middle East
Egypt rights activist gets new trial
17 Jan 02 | Middle East
Ruling on Egypt rights activist delayed
21 May 01 | Middle East
US condemns Egyptian jailing
21 May 01 | Middle East
Egypt jails human rights activist
18 Nov 00 | Middle East
Leading Egyptian activist goes on trial
10 Aug 00 | Middle East
Egypt to free human rights activist
14 Jul 00 | Middle East
Rights groups press Egypt over arrests
02 Jul 00 | Middle East
US refused access to rights campaigner
01 Jul 00 | Middle East
Egyptian democracy campaigner arrested
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