Egypt pardons nearly 2,000 Mubarak detainees

Egypt’s military ruler has pardoned 1959 people convicted by military courts in the year since President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, including activist Michael Nabil whose hunger strike had brought him close to death.

The state Al Nil television channel said the convicts had been pardoned by Hussein Tantawi, head of the military council that has ruled Egypt since Mubarak’s removal in February 2011 in the midst of the Arab Spring protests that swept the region.

The pardon came four days before the first anniversary of the 18-day Egyptian uprising which began on January 25, though it was not clear if any of the detainees had yet been released.

Nabil, jailed by a military court for defaming the army, had his prison term reduced to two years from three in December following criticism from international human rights groups.

The 25-year-old was arrested in March and began a hunger strike to protest against his conviction for posting remarks saying the army had tried to quell the uprising against Mubarak.

The generals now ruling Egypt say the army took no part in a police crackdown on protesters and have pledged to hand over to civilian rule by June.