Egypt’s most popular television satirist, who every week skewers the Islamist president and hard-line clerics on his Jon Stewart-style show, was released on bail Sunday but could face charges of insulting the country’s leader and Islam.
Bassem Youssef is the most prominent critic of President Mohammed Morsi to be called in for questioning in recent weeks, in what the opposition says is a campaign to intimidate critics amid wave after wave of political unrest in deeply polarized Egypt.
Arrest warrants have been issued for five prominent anti-government activists accused of instigating violence.
Deputy chief prosecutor Hassan Yassin denied the nearly five-hour interrogation was part of an intimidation campaign and said his department was enforcing the law and seeking to establish some guidelines on freedom of expression.
“The prosecution is the protector of social rights and we work on implementing the law. … There must be guidelines for those working in the media to observe so as not violate the law,” Yassin told The Associated Press.