The prominent Egyptian rights activist was jailed for allegedly organising a protest and assaulting a police officer [File: Hussein Tallal/AP]

A leading Egyptian pro-democracy activist was released from prison early Friday after serving a five-year sentence for inciting and taking part in protests, his family and lawyer said.

Alaa Abdel Fattah rose to prominence with the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings that swept the Middle East and in Egypt, toppled long-time President Hosni Mubarak. To many, his imprisonment three years later – at a time when authorities imposed draconian laws banning public gatherings and unauthorized demonstrations – was another sign of Egypt’s return to autocratic rule.

Abdel-Fattah’s sisters, Mona and Sanaa Seif, posted on Facebook that “Alaa is out,” along with a video of

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