An Egyptian court acquitted Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin-Ibrahim Monday of defaming Egypt's image, calling the charges "baseless in content and form."
Saad Eddin Ibrahim, 71, is one of Egypt's leading democracy and human rights activists but has been in self-imposed exile in the United States for two years.
However this morning he was acquitted from the charges and can return to Egypt. "I am very pleased with the court's ruling and for rejecting all the legal hounding that has assailed me for so long," a happy Saad Eddine Ibrahim told Al Arabiya.
"This is the fourth ruling in my favor so this legal hounding is a waste of my time and efforts," Ibrahim said. "I am trying to reform the system and uphold human rights and hope that the existing regime will reciprocate by allowing free speech and disagreeing with me in a civil manner," he added.
Ibrahim, an American citizen, was accused of "harming Egypt's image abroad" for accusing the Egyptian government of committing human rights abuses in an article published in the Washington Post. Ibrahim was sentenced in absentia to two years last August.
Judge Ashraf Sheta overturned the sentence Monday, though there are seven outstanding cases against Ibrahim, including one for treason that is under investigation by the attorney general.
"The court found the latest charge against Ibrahim baseless in content and form," Abdel Fatah Mustafa, one of Ibrahim's lawyer, who attended the session this morning, told Al Arabiya.
Mustafa said the court found the charges baseless because they were filed by "non-persons," when they should have been filed by the Attorney General himself as they related to Egypt's political standing abroad.
"Charges of any sort relating to Egypt's reputation or standing abroad are taken care of by the Attorney General. Instead we have free standing lawyers connected to the regime filing charges against an Egyptian citizen claiming he harmed his country, this is against Article 4 of the Penal code," Mustafa said.
Mustafa hailed the court's ruling and said it showed the independence of Egypt's judiciary.
Ibrahim also lauded Egypt's higher courts, saying that they remain independent of political manipulation, but said courts on the lower level in Egypt's judiciary are often used by the government to "settle scores" with dissindents.