CAIRO, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said on Saturday Egypt would release more than 200 political prisoners, saying only a few were detained during a popular uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak.
He was quoted as saying by the state news agency that 222 prisoners would soon be freed and put the number of remaining political prisoners at 487.
Rights groups say thousands of Egyptians have been detained without charge under the country’s emergency laws and that many of them might be classified as political prisoners.
“Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq announced that there are 487 remaining political prisoners and that the government will release 222 of them shortly,” the state news agency MENA said.
He did not say when they would be released.
Shafiq said the number detained during the revolt that began on Jan. 25 did not exceed a handful, and that efforts were underway to find out the fate of those who disappeared during the uprising, the report added.
Protesters and rights groups say hundreds went missing during the protests, and that some are being held by authorities. (Reporting by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Maria Golovnina)