Egypt court orders senior Brotherhood leader freed

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CAIRO, Oct 4 (Reuters) An Egyptian court ordered the release of senior Muslim Brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian and nine other members of the Islamist opposition group today, court sources and the Brotherhood said.

But a time for the release was not yet set.

The men, detained during an escalating Egyptian crackdown on political dissent, were among a group of 17 Islamists arrested in mid-August after Egyptian police broke up a Brotherhood leadership meeting in the Cairo suburb of Mohandiseen.

Erian, a medical doctor who is head of the Brotherhood's political department, has been in and out of detention for more than 15 years as a result of his Brotherhood activities.

The non-violent Brotherhood seeks an Islamic state through democratic elections and operates openly despite a decades-old ban. Brotherhood members hold a fifth of the seats in parliament.

But the Egyptian government considers the Brotherhood an illegal organisation and regularly detains members without charge. Some 40 members of the group are currently on trial in military court on terrorism and money laundering charges in a trial rights groups have complained is unfair.

REUTERS JK PM1900

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