By Tom Perry
CAIRO | Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:23pm EDT
(Reuters) – Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi has freed a group of Islamists jailed for militancy during Hosni Mubarak’s era a step seen as a gesture to hardliners who supported his presidential bid.
A lawyer for 17 Islamists, many of them held since the 1990s, say they owe their release to a pardon issued by Mursi. At least three of the released Islamists had been condemned to death, said the lawyer Ibrahim Ali.
Those released in recent days include members of al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, jailed during the group’s armed insurrection against the state in the 1990s, and Islamic Jihad, the movement behind the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat.
The pardon underlines efforts by Egypt’s first Islamist president to satisfy the some of the hardliners he courted with election promises to implement Islamic law.