CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's new president on Monday issued a decree pardoning all those charged with or convicted of acts "in support of the revolution" since the beginning of the popular uprising that forced his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, from power.
The move by Mohammed Morsi was long demanded by Egypt's youth groups behind the uprising. It could potentially benefit more than 1,000 protesters currently on trial following their arrests during demonstrations since the uprising against Mubarak erupted on Jan. 25, 2011 and until Morsi was sworn in on June 30.
Those already convicted for their role in the protests may also be pardoned. Most of those on trial or convicted were detained during the rule of the generals who took over after Mubarak stepped down in February 2011.
Mohammed Gadallah, Morsi's legal advisor, said the decree is "one of the revolution's most important victories."
"It shows the revolution is now in power and guides the decision-making," Gadallah told The Associated Press. "This is a legislation that protects the revolutionaries."
However, the wording of the decree is vague and doesn't immediately set anyone free, according to several human rights lawyers. It asks the prosecutor general and the military prosecutor to prepare a list of names, within a month of the decree's issuance, of those who may benefit from the pardon.
The first article of the decree, which was published on Morsi's official Facebook page, orders a "comprehensive pardon for crimes and misdemeanors or attempts to commit them in support of the revolution and the realization of its goals."
The only suspects exempted from the decree are those charged with premeditated murder over that time period.
"It is a great step, but not enough," said Ahmed Seif, a member of the committee formed by Morsi to review cases of those tried following the uprising. He said he had advised Morsi to specify who would benefit from the pardon.
"Now, there will be differences over how to implement the pardon, and a debate," Seif said.