CAIRO, June 6 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Friday that 90 per cent of those in the country's jails are imprisoned on criminal charges, not for political reasons.
In a televised interview with TV anchor Osama Kamal, Sisi tackled a number of issues in relation to development projects, investments, international relations and the situation for youth in Egypt.
The interview comes on the second anniversary of Sisi’s sweeping victory in the 2014 presidential elections. The former army chief garnered more than 96 per cent of the votes then, less than a year after leading the military ouster of then-President Mohamed Mursi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, after mass protests against Mursi's rule.
During the interview, Sisi said that he "will look into the cases of the the rest," referring to a remaining 10 per cent of detainees who are allegedly in prison on political charges.
He said that Egyptian media should highlight the government's "achievements" to give hope to the people, adding that among achievements made during his tenure is a state initiative that provides training to youth.
Since a protest law that imposes restrictions on protests was introduced in November 2013, many Egyptians, mostly youth, have been detained and convicted of violating the law and protesting without obtaining prior approval from the interior ministry.
The law has been widely criticised by domestic and international human rights organisations which say it violates international standards that allow for peaceful protests.
Hundreds of Egyptian youth were arrested in April for protesting against a decision by Sisi to cede control over two strategic Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
In May, an appeals court revoked five-year prison sentences which had been handed down to 47 of them and ordered their release on bail of 100,000 Egyptian pounds (around $11,254) each. Another court is set to look into prison sentences given to 33 protesters on June 4. But at least tens others remain in custody over April's protests.
Simultaneously, security forces raided the headquarters of Egypt's Press Syndicate on the first of May to arrest two journalists from inside the building on charges of "inciting protests", also in relation to the protests staged against the controversial decision to hand over the two islands to Saudi Arabia.
The raiding of the syndicate enraged many Egyptian journalists while the press syndicate described it as an “unprecedented” incident and demanded the sacking of the interior minister.
The interior ministry, however, denied storming the syndicate or using force to arrest the two journalists.