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Prominent Egyptian human rights activist freed from custody

The journalist and rights activist Hossam Bahgat has been released by Egypt's army after days of detention that sparked international furor. Bahgat has sought to expose the country's hushed military justice.

The news was confirmed on Tuesday by leaders of the Egyptian Initiative for Human Rights, which the released Hossam Bahgat founded in 2002.

"He confirmed he has been released from the military intelligence building and he is on his way home," the initiative's associate director said.

Bahgat, an investigative journalist, was summoned for questioning on Sunday by the military over an article he published in October about the hushed jailing of 26 army officers accused of fronting a Muslim Brotherhood coup against President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Following the interrogation, he was detained and held under the jurisdiction of military prosecutors.

Bahgat's prominent status as a fierce defender of human rights in a country where they appear to be under increasing threat brought swift condemnation of his disappearance and attention to the similar capture of Egyptian activists.

The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced Bahgat's arrest as a violation of freedom of expression and urged his release. "The latest in a long line of arrests and imprisonment of independent journalists in Egypt is disturbing on a number of fronts," a spokesman for the commissioner said on Tuesday.

jtm/kms (AFP, dpa)

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