Cairo: Esraa el-Taweel, 23-yr photojournalist, was ordered a release Saturday by a Cairo court due to her deteriorated health conditions, after she spent more than 150 days in remand over charges of spreading false news.
Her release is a “precautionary” and not on bail, which means she will return back to court after 45 days, her Lawyer Halim Hanish told The Cairo Post. Saturday’s court session, presided by Judge Hassan Farid, did not discuss Taweel’s charges but only considered her detention renewal, Hanish added.
Since her arrest in June, Taweel’s detention has been continuously renewed pending investigations without standing trial.
According to Hanish, she is expected to be back home within 48 hours; she will be released from Boulaq el-Dakrour police station in Giza.
After learning the court’s decision, a state of both joy and tears filled Taweel’s family and friends waiting outside the Torah Prison Complex, where Taweel’s session was held. Activists on social media shared the news and celebrated her release using hashtag #EsraaElTaweel.
Before her arrest, Taweel was recovering after being shot in her back during the second anniversary of the January 25 Revolution in 2014. Her condition worsened while detained as she is unable to walk unassisted due to lack of proper medical assistance, according to one of her letters leaked from prison.
Her Lawyer’s previous requests for release over health reasons were not met with approval.
Taweel’s case has attracted a wide sympathy and support from social media. A picture of Taweel weeping in a Nov.2 court session triggered interaction by social media activists who tweeted using her name #اسراء_الطويل that listed among the trending hashtags in Egypt then, and collected more than 30,000 tweets in a week.
In November, the state-owned news agency MENA published a copy of Taweel’s investigations allegedly saying she confessed to accusations including a plot to assassinate a senior state official. Her defense team, who attended her investigation sessions, denied that she has acknowledge any of the charges mentioned in MENA’s report, considering the alleged allegations as a “smear campaign” to direct public opinion away from sympathizing with her.
In June 1, Taweel went missing along with two of her friends, and then appeared two weeks later in Qanater prison for women. She wrote a letter in prison about how she was forcibly disappeared, held and interrogated at the headquarters of the homeland security authority.
She is facing charges of belonging to unlawful organization, (the Muslim Brotherhood) and spreading “false news to disrupt national unity.”