Middle East
Egypt Brotherhood chief to be freed
Egyptian court orders release of political bureau head, Essam el Erian.
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2007 15:44 GMT
El Erian has been in and out
of detention for 15 years [AFP]
An Egyptian court has ordered the release of Essam el Erian, a leader in the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and nine other members of the opposition group, court sources said.

A date for the prisoners' release has not yet been set.
The men, detained during an escalating Egyptian crackdown on political dissent in August, were among a group of 17 Islamists arrested after Egyptian police broke up a Muslim Brotherhood meeting in the Cairo suburb of Mohandiseen.
El Erian, a doctor who is head of the Brotherhood's political department, has been in and out of detention for more than 15 years as a result of his activities with the Muslim Brotherhood.

The government considers the Brotherhood an illegal organisation and frequently detains its members without charge.

About 40 members are currently on trial in military court on terrorism and money-laundering charges in a trial that rights groups say is unfair.

An order for the release of Nabeel Moqbel, a prominent Egyptian businessman and Brotherhood member, has also been issued.

On Wednesday, another court ordered the release of three other members, including Mahmoud Ghozlan, a member of the group's decision-making body, the Guidance Bureau.

The Brotherhood, which has renounced violence, seeks an Islamic state through democratic elections and operates openly despite an official ban dating back to 1954.

Brotherhood members, the largest opposition group, hold 88 seats in Egypt's 454-member lower house of parliament.
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