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Egypt frees ex-general arrested after challenging president

Sami Annan was taken into custody in January last year after declaring his intention to run in the presidential election.

Sami Annan in his former role as Chief of Staff (Amr Nabil/AP)
Sami Annan in his former role as Chief of Staff (Amr Nabil/AP)

By Samy Magdy, Associated Press

The Egyptian military has released one of the country’s former chiefs-of-staff nearly two years after his arrest, according to officials and his lawyer.

Sami Annan was detained following an announcement he would challenge President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in the 2018 presidential vote and was sentenced to nine years in prison by a military court earlier this year.

Mr Annan had been taken into custody in January last year on charges of fraudulently registering to vote and of breaching regulations by declaring his intention to run in the presidential election two months later, without first clearing it with the military.

The former general was also charged with incitement against the armed forces over a video he had released declaring his candidacy.

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi addressing the United Nations General Assembly (Richard Drew/AP)

The military at the time said that Mr Annan, who served as chief-of-staff until he was removed from office in 2012, was still formally in the reserves and therefore ineligible to vote.

Mr el-Sissi won the vote virtually unchallenged and was re-elected.

Mr Annan, 71, was freed on Sunday, two military officials said.

His lawyer, Naser Amin, confirmed the former general had been released, saying it was for “health reasons” and that Mr Annan was back at his home in Cairo.

Mr Annan served as military chief under long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in the 2011 popular uprising known as one of the Arab Spring revolts in the region.

He was subsequently sacked by President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood stalwart who was elected in 2012.

In 2013, Mr el-Sissi, who also hailed from the military, led its ousting of Mr Morsi, amid massive protests against the Brotherhood’s divisive rule.

Mr Morsi died during one of his several trials in a Cairo courtroom earlier this year.



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