ABC News’ Molly Hunter and Adam Makary report:
CAIRO – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was released from prison and transported by helicopter to a military hospital today in Cairo, according to Egypt’s interior ministry.
The ministry said the former dictator left Cairo’s Tora prison after the public prosecutor’s office ordered his release.
After he leaves the hospital, he’ll be placed under house arrest at an unknown location. In a statement Wednesday night, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi ordered the house arrest as part of the emergency laws put in place last month. The former dictator is also barred from leaving the country under a previously issued travel ban and unable to access his foreign assets.
Deeb’s prediction earlier this week that his client would be released within days was met with doubt.
“All we have left is a simple administrative procedure that should take no more than 48 hours,” Deeb told Reuters Monday. “He should be freed by the end of the week.”
Deeb appears to have been right.
Cairo’s Criminal Court Monday cleared Mubarak, 85, of an outstanding corruption charge related to illegal gifts he received while in office.
The former dictator has been behind bars since April 2011 on a lengthy list of charges. Mubarak was sentenced last summer to life in prison for his failure to stop the killing of hundreds of civilians during the 18-day revolution of 2011. After appealing the decision in January, Egypt’s highest appeals court ordered a retrial.
His release comes as Egypt reels from the ouster of its second president in two years, Mohamed Morsi, who was elected last year to replace Mubarak.
After the deadliest week in the country’s modern history, the reappearance of the embattled dictator threatens to inflame political tensions. More than 1,000 people have reportedly been killed since last Wednesday.
Mubarak’s release enraged Islamists. During Morsi’s presidency, the Muslim Brotherhood was keen to keep Mubarak locked up. In the wake of the July 3 military takeover that removed the Brotherhood from power, his release only bolsters the Islamists’ claims that the old regime is making a comeback.
Many of the new government’s leaders also served under Mubarak. Egypt’s army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, was Mubarak’s head of intelligence and the interim president, Adly Mansour, was recently promoted by Mubarak.
But the Islamists are not alone. Mubarak’s release deals a dramatic blow to all supporters of the 2011 revolution.
“It’ll cancel everything we did for the past year, the past two years,” an Egyptian man in Cairo’s Zamalek neighborhood told ABC News Wednesday. “It’ll cancel everything we’ve been through – all the killing, all the bloodshed – it’s devastating.”
He added, “I’m expecting a second revolution for that.”