Such a release would be in line with the second article of the pardoning decree No. 157 of Wednesday 15/4/2020. According to the Egyptian Constitution, the President has the right to issue pardons for convicted prisoners after consulting with the Cabinet. In addition, the release of the prisoners comes as part of the Egyptian interior ministry’s reform plan to release convicts who have been seen as qualified to start engaging in society.

Khaled Lotfy qualifies for such a release and in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan, we hope that he will be reunited with his family and can spend this month with them.

A Presidential pardon of Lotfy, the IPA’s 2019 Prix Voltaire laureate, whose final appeal was rejected on December 24 2019 by the Egyptian Military Court of Cassation, remains the last avenue to freedom.

Kristenn Einarsson, Chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee, said: This year’s Ramadan pardon list is even more important as the world tries to tackle the COVID-19 Pandemic. We appeal for Khaled’s release so he can be with his family at this very difficult time.

The current coronavirus crisis puts those imprisoned at a heightened risk of infection with the potentially deadly disease. Not only Khaled Lotfy, both other courageous Prix Voltaire recipients such as Saudi Arabia’s Raif Badawi and Hong Kong book seller Gui Minhai remain in jail for making freedom to publish a living reality for all, in every region of the world.

IPA echoes the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, request for governments to release persons detained for expressing critical or dissenting views and political prisoners to prevent COVID-19 from “rampaging through places of detention”.