Egypt court orders release of pro-government TV host

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the release of a pro-government talk show host accused of insulting the police and disseminating false news on his state TV program, his lawyer said.

Khairi Ramadan was released on bail of 10,000 Egyptian pounds, about $570, according to his lawyer, Taher el-Khouly. The case has not been dropped, and prosecutors can appeal his release.

Ramadan was detained Saturday after a segment about police salaries. He said the wife of an unnamed police colonel had told him she was considering working as a housekeeper to supplement their meager income.

Egypt has regularly detained and prosecuted journalists since the military overthrow of an elected Islamist president in 2013, part of a wider crackdown on dissent. Authorities have stepped up pressure on the media ahead of this month's presidential election, in which President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi faces no serious challenge.

Authorities are especially sensitive to any perceived criticism of the police or military.

The head of Egypt's media regulatory agency said in comments published Monday in the independent al-Shorouk newspaper that Ramadan should be released after he offered an apology.

Makram Mohammed Ahmed said Ramadan's continuing detention hurts Egypt's image.

Meanwhile, a human rights lawyer who went missing days ago resurfaced before the Supreme State Security Prosecution in Cairo, his group said late Sunday.

Ezzat Ghoneim, of the Egyptian Coordination for Rights and Freedoms, was the first to confirm the arrest on Wednesday of a woman who was interviewed by the BBC for a report about forced disappearances that angered Egyptian authorities. The woman had said police were behind her daughter's disappearance a year ago and that her daughter had been tortured in prison during an earlier detention, allegations denied by authorities.

The statement said Ghoneim's whereabouts have been unknown even to his family since his arrest last Thursday, and that prosecutors have barred his lawyers from the proceedings.

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