[JURIST] Libya freed 130 political prisoners [AI press release] on Thursday, among them 85 members of the Islamist opposition group Muslim Brotherhood [Wikipedia backgounder], some of whom have been held since 1998. In 2002, the now-abolished People's Court sentenced the Brotherhood members for treason for participating in unauthorized political activity, which is a serious crime in Libya. The court sentenced two of the prisoners to death, 73 to life in prison, and 11 to 10 years, while 66 were acquitted.
The prisoners began a hunger strike [JURIST report] in January protesting their incarceration. They were previously assured of their eventual release [JURIST report] by an influential and reform-minded son of Libyan leader Colonel Muhamar Gaddafi [BBC profile] last year, but the Libyan government waited until now to grant the releases. Aljazeera has more. BBC has additional coverage.