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Egyptian Court Orders Mubarak's Release

Egyptian officials say a court has ordered the release of former president Hosni Mubarak from prison, where he has been held since a 2011 popular uprising drove him from power.

Mr. Mubarak's lawyer, Fareed el-Deeb, told the Reuters news agency the former ruler could be freed as early as Thursday. There was no official word on the timing of a release.

Egypt's judicial system is retrying the 85-year-old Mubarak on charges that he failed to stop the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolt. But in a ruling Wednesday, the court said the retrial does not constitute legal grounds for his continued detention.

Earlier this week , an Egyptian court also cleared Mr. Mubarak of charges that he and his sons stole public money for presidential palaces.

In other developments Wednesday, Egyptian authorities arrested a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman and a radical preacher with ties to the group.

Brotherhood political spokesman Mourad Ali was taken into custody at the Cairo airport, while cleric Safwat Hegazy was arrested near the Libyan border. Officials said both were trying to flee the country.

Egypt's military-backed interim government has been cracking down on the Islamist movement since ousting president Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood member, on July 3.

Egyptian authorities say at least 1,000 people have been killed in political violence since Mr. Morsi's ouster. The Brotherhood says the toll is much higher.

EU foreign ministers issued a statement Wednesday, strongly condemning the violence and accusing Egyptian security forces of a "disproportionate" use of force.

They agreed to suspend EU exports to Egypt of equipment that could be used for "internal repression" and decided to review EU aid programs for the Arab state.

Also Wednesday, the United Nations political affairs chief was in Cairo for talks aimed at ending Egypt's political crisis. Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman is on a three-day mission described by a spokesman as a "push to restore peace and forge reconciliation."

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