Egyptian dissident Saad Eddin Ibrahim [professional profile] on Wednesday returned to Egypt after three years of exile, despite nine outstanding criminal complaints against him. Ibrahim, founder of the Ibn Khaldoun Centre for Development Studies [academic website], has been a prominent human rights activist and outspoken critic of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [NYT profile]. Ibrahim returned for the two-week visit after Egyptian prosecutors assured Ibrahim's lawyers that his arrest was not sought [AP report] by the government. The outstanding complaints include charges that he caused the US Congress to reduce its financial aid to the Egyptian government and that he helped fellow constitutional reformist and former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] Mohamed ElBaradei [Al Jazeera profile] to communicate with the US government. Ibrahim originally left Egypt to escape prosecution, taking up residence in Qatar [Al Jazeera report].
In May 2009, an Egyptian court overturned Ibrahim's conviction [JURIST report] on charges related to defaming Egypt, finding that the charges were without merit. A dual US and Egyptian citizen, he was accused of defaming Egypt by criticizing its human rights practices and politics, left the country, and was tried and convicted in absentia. The decision overturns a two-year jail sentence [JURIST report] imposed against Ibrahim. Last year, the US State Department [official website] criticized Ibrahim's prosecution [JURIST report] and advocated the protection of civil and political rights. The charges against Ibrahim have been filed by private citizens, who may file lawsuits against individuals who make statements that harm society under Egyptian law.