Egyptian authorities Tuesday released the country’s former anti-graft chief after he served a five-year prison term for allegedly insulting and disseminating false news about the military, his lawyers said.
Hesham Genena, a former judge, walked free from a police station and returned to his home in Cairo’s eastern New Cairo district, lawyer Hossam Lotfy said.
His daughter, Shorouk Genena, posted images on Facebook showing her father hugging his family. “Baba is out, finally,” she wrote.
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Genena was taken Tuesday to the country’s Supreme State Security Prosecution following his release from a prison, where he was questioned over separate allegations of disseminating false news, said another lawyer Naser Amin.
The allegations are related to comments he made in 2016 on the scale of government corruption, Amin said. Prosecutors ordered his release pending an investigation, he added.
Genena, who was arrested in February 2018, served a five-year sentence on a conviction of insulting the military. The conviction was related to incendiary comments in which he claimed that the military’s former chief-of-staff, Sami Annan, was in possession of documents incriminating the country’s leadership. He said the documents were kept abroad.
Annan was arrested shortly after he announced his intention to challenge President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in the 2018 election. The president won with 97% of the vote in a race that saw no real challenger.
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Annan was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of fraudulently registering to vote, of breaching regulations, and incitement against the armed forces over a video he released declaring his candidacy. He was released in December 2019 for health reasons, Amin said at the time.
Genena led Egypt’s top watchdog agency until el-Sissi fired him in 2016 following an investigation that concluded he had misled the public on the scale of government corruption. Genena said corruption had cost the country billions of dollars in 2015 alone. He later said he was misquoted by a local news outlet.
Genena had long been the target of criticism from pro-government media, well-connected businessmen and senior officials since being appointed in 2012, but his massive corruption allegations sparked a particular furor, with media branding him a traitor and closet supporter of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
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El-Sissi appointed a commission that eventually accused Genena of misleading the public with support from unnamed “foreign” parties.