Egypt releases former chief of staff from jail after a year

General Sami Anan was arrested in January of 2018 after announcing he would challenge Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the presidential election.

Elad Benari ,

Sami Anan
Sami Anan

Egypt on Sunday released from jail a former military chief of staff who was arrested in 2018 after he tried to challenge President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for the presidency.

"General Sami Anan has been set free," an official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Anan was arrested in early 2018 after he announced he would run in a presidential election against Sisi, who later swept to victory in a March 2018 poll for a second term.

At the time, the army accused Anan of announcing his intention to run in the election "without getting the approval of the armed forces or following the required procedures to end his service in the military."

It also said Anan's announcement constituted "direct incitement against the armed forces with the intent of causing a rift between it and the great Egyptian people."

Following his arrest, a military court imposed a media blackout concerning Anan and the proceedings against him.

Sisi won an overwhelming 97 percent of votes in a May 2014 poll and was re-elected president for another five-year term in March 2018, again with more than 97 percent of the vote.

Anan had declared his candidacy after several prominent figures who had been seen as potential challengers to Sisi had already ruled themselves out.

Since Sisi took power, rights campaigners have regularly accused his government of abuses, including mass trials and torture as well as a clampdown on opposition and the media.

Under Sisi’s rule, authorities have launched a broad crackdown on dissidents, mostly from the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed and designated a terrorist organization in Egypt in December of 2013.

In April, Egypt's parliament overwhelmingly approved constitutional amendments allowing Sisi to stay in power until 2030.