El-Erian is free
El-Erian is free
Sunday, October 16,2005 00:00
By Ikhwan web

El-Erian is free
CAIRO, Egypt -- Egyptian authorities have ordered the release of a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure, Essam el-Erian, and three other members of the banned Islamic group, a party official said Saturday.

El-Erian, 52, a former lawmaker, spent more than five months in custody without charge. He and fellow Brotherhood leader Helmi el-Gazar were detained May 6, hours before nationwide anti-government protests that police alleged they organized.

Few details were available on the other two men ordered freed. They were among hundreds of rank-and-file Muslim Brotherhood members arrested, but later released, in a crackdown on political activists opposing the government of President Hosni Mubarak.

Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Mahmoud said orders to release the four on bail were handed down by prosecutors Saturday, but they were not expected to be released until Sunday.

Egyptian authorities can hold detainees for up to six months without trial under much criticized emergency laws issued in 1981 after Islamic militants assassinated President Anwar Sadat.

El-Erian has spent five years in jail since 1995 on charges of belonging to the Brotherhood, which wants to create an Islamic state in Egypt.

The group was established in 1928, then banned in 1954. It renounced violence in the 1970s and has refrained from provoking the government, but it has engaged in protests since March demanding political reform.

The Brotherhood, believed to be Egypt’s largest Islamist group, is highly organized and remains a key player in politics despite the ban and vilification in the state-run media. Supporters hold 15 seats as independents in parliament, forming the largest opposition bloc.

The group has announced plans to field some 150 candidates in legislative elections Nov. 9, but el-Erian is not expected to run, Mahmoud said.