Egypt court releases activist Alaa Abdel Fattah on bail
CAIRO - An Egyptian court released on bail Sunday leading leftwing activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, in the opening session of his trial on charges of participating in an illegal and violent protest.
Abdel Fattah, a prominent youth leader of the 2011 uprising that overthrew president Hosni Mubarak, was arrested last November for taking part in a protest against widened military powers under the new army-appointed regime.
The interim government, appointed after the overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, has cracked down on both Islamists and secular opponents.
Abdel Fattah faces trial with 24 codefendants, all but one of them already released on bail before the trial.
They were arrested after taking part in a protest outside the senate, where a panel was drafting a new constitution allowing the military more powers in choosing the defence minister, and retaining its right to try civilians before military tribunals.
The protest violated a recently enacted law banning all but police-authorised demonstrations.
Cheers erupted in the courtroom when the presiding judge ordered the release of Fattah and the codefendant still in custody on bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds (around $1,400).
His father and lawyer Ahmed Seif said he should be freed on Monday, once bail has been posted.