President Mohamed Morsy has pardoned several Islamists who had been serving life sentences that were issued by military or Supreme State Security courts during the Mubarak regime, said Islamist and security sources on Monday.
Some of the released prisoners had already served up to 20 years in prison.
Jama'a al-Islamiya said 16 of its members were released on Saturday, with yet another member to be released Monday or Tuesday at the latest.
“They spent long years in the high security Tora Prison,” the group posted on its website. “But they were released today, by a miracle, beyond the expectations of the people, and after the Egyptian revolution and the fall of the tyrant.”
Islamist lawyer Nizar Ghorab said that among the pardoned are two or three individuals who had been found guilty of involvement in the assassination of the late President Anwar Sadat in 1981 during a military parade in Cairo.
Since the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak, several prominent Islamic figures have been released from jails, including Tarek al-Zomor and his cousin, the former head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad group Aboud al-Zomor, both of whom are also leading figures in the formerly illegal Jama'a al-Islamiya group.
In 1982 both Tarek and Aboud were convicted on charges related to Sadat’s assassination. In March 2011, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ordered their release along with other political prisoners who had already served 15 years or more of their jail terms.