Even though it had been a relentless demand on the part of all Egyptian activists and a sizable portion of its population, the release of blogger and activist Alaa Abdul Fattah Sunday took everyone by surprise and left many wondering if it is after all a political decision.
Alaa’s father, activist Ahmed Seif al-Islam does not agree with the prevalent assumption that his son’s release was an attempt to restore calm to the country especially following recent violent clashes between protestors and the army.
“The decision to release Alaa is not political at all, for it was made on purely legal basis,” Seif al-Islam told Al Arabiya.
Seif al-Islam explained that the judge in charge of the case is independent and that he ruled that Alaa should be released after listening to the prosecution and the witnesses and after Alaa himself denied being in Maspero, a neighborhood in downtown Cairo, when bloody clashes that killed more than 20 people erupted between the army and Coptic protestors on Oct. 9.
“I could see how unbiased and fair the judge was. Plus the judge’s authority is higher and more independent than that of the prosecution. He released all those charged in the Maspero events except one,” he said.
When asked about the details of the release order, Seif al-Islam said that Alaa was confronted with the two witnesses that testified to his involvement in the clashes.
“One of them said that Alaa was carrying an army gun that he seized by force from one of the officers in front of the TV building in Maspero and the other said that he was actually shooting at army officers from a bridge.”
This, Seif al-Islam explained, showed that there is a contradiction between the two testimonies since each specified a different place from which Alaa embarked on anti-army violence.
“This contradiction is usually for the benefit of the defendant,” he pointed out.
Regarding the timing of releasing Alaa, Seif al-Islam said that when the case was transferred from military to civil prosecution, the detention-pending-trial period was to expire in one day, so the judge had to renew it until he gets the chance to read the details.
“After the judge got well-acquainted with the case, he set a date for the hearing.”
According to Egyptian press reports, Alaa headed to Tahrir Sqaure right after his release. There, he was surrounded by dozens of protestors shouting, “Down with the military rule!”
Alaa vowed in statements he gave to different Egyptian newspapers to continue the fight in order to see the goals of the revolution achieved and not to be distracted by his release.
“Do not rejoice in my release. The real victory is when the Military Police commander stands behind bars while being tried for killing protestors,” the Egyptian daily independent al-Shorouk quoted him as saying in its Monday issue.
The paper added that the moment Alaa was out, he held his newborn Khaled, kissed him, and said, “I want to be acquitted for him.”
Alaa’s sister Mona told the paper that she had a feeling her brother was to be released because she knew he was not guilty.
“It was obvious that the charge was leveled against him as a person and that is why almost everyone detained on the same charges was released before him.”
As for his wife and fellow activist Manal Hassan, she didn’t say much.
“Thank God! At last justice has been served,” she told the paper.
According to the daily independent al-Masry al-Youm, Alaa told the protestors that together they will make sure that justice is served.
“It’s either we avenge the martyrs or we die like them. Those are the real symbols of the revolution and not me,” the paper quoted him as saying Monday.
“I will never rest until those who have killed Egyptian youths are duly penalized,” he added.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)