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Egyptian President Pardons Jailed Journalist, Researcher

FILE - Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi speaks at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, May 26, 2017.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has pardoned eight people sentenced to prison, including a journalist and a researcher, a member of the Presidential Pardon Committee said Friday.

"Presidential pardon for eight convicts," lawyer Tareq al-Awadi, a member of a committee formed in April to review the cases of prisoners eligible for presidential pardons, said in a statement.

Left-wing journalist and political activist Hisham Fouad, sentenced to four years in jail in November for "spreading false news," and researcher Ahmed Samir, sentenced earlier this month to three years on the same charge, were among those named in the statement on Twitter.

Both Fouad and Samir had appeared before courts whose verdicts cannot be appealed.

The announcement came after an Egyptian judge on Monday ordered the release of human rights lawyer Mohamed Ramadan, who was initially accused of "terrorism" and held in preventive detention for nearly four years for backing a French protest movement.

Cairo has faced frequent criticism of its human rights record, with advocacy groups saying there are currently about 60,000 political prisoners, many facing brutal conditions and overcrowded cells.

Since el-Sissi reactivated the dormant Presidential Pardon Committee earlier this year, dozens of prisoners have been released from provisional detention.