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Egypt releases comedian after more than 2 years in prison

He was charged with joining an outlawed group, a reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, and disseminating false news.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Egyptian authorities released a comedian, who was working for a popular satirical television program, after more than two years in prison without trial, a rights lawyer said Sunday.

Attorney Mokhtar Mounir said Shady Abu Zaid was released from a Cairo police station late Saturday, but as part of his terms of release must report to a police station twice a week.

His sister, Roula Abu Zaid, confirmed the news in a Facebook post and shared a photo of the siblings and their friends at home after his release.

Police arrested Abu Zaid in May 2018 after plain-clothed security officers raided his house in Cairo. He was charged with joining an outlawed group, a reference to the banned Muslim Brotherhood, and disseminating false news.

Earlier this month, a court ordered his conditional release after he exceeded the allowed two-year period for pretrial detention.

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Abu Zaid was working on camera for a satirical program whose host was a puppet named Abla Fahita. The show has since been canceled. Before his arrest, he also produced a show called "The Rich Content" that popular on social media networks.

In 2016, he attracted controversy for handing out balloons made of inflated condoms to police officers on the fifth anniversary of the 2011 uprising that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak and had been aimed at reforming the state's heavy-handed security apparatus.

Abu Zaid was one of many government critics behind bars in Egypt amid a years-long crackdown by the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi on the media. More than 60 journalists are in jail in Egypt, according to the International Press Institute, with the country ranked among the world's worst jailers of journalists.