CAIRO – Egypt's ousted leader Hosni Mubarak was released from prison and transported by helicopter to a military hospital Thursday in Cairo, according to exclusive footage shown on a private TV station.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
A medically equipped helicopter landed Thursday at an Egypt prison Thursday to transport Hosni Mubarak from prison to his new home under house arrest, state TV reported, as dozens of the ousted leader's supporters rallied outside waiting for the ousted leader to be released after more than two years in detention.
It has not been revealed where Mubarak will be sent. The release threatens to stoke the unrest as the Arab nation is already roiled in a crisis over a military coup that ousted Mubarak's Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi has ordered that Mubarak be put under house arrest as part of the emergency measures imposed this month after a wave of violence sparked by Morsi's ouster. The decision appeared designed to ease some of the criticism over Mubarak being freed from prison and ensure that he appears in court next week for a separate trial.
It was the latest development in the saga of the longtime leader, toppled in Egypt's 2011 uprising.
Even if released, Mubarak still faces retrial on charges of complicity in the killing of nearly 900 protesters in the uprising. His trial resumes next week.
A senior prison official, Mostafa Baz, told the private TV station CBC that authorities were waiting for confirmation from prosecutors that there are no other pending cases against Mubarak that could keep him behind bars.
Mubarak is facing a number of other charges of corruption, but prosecutors have already ordered his release pending trials. The last release order Wednesday was on charges of receiving gifts from a state-owned newspaper, a case Mubarak had settled.
Mostafa Mohsein, one of the supporters outside the Tora prison, said he came to wish Mubarak well and congratulate him on his release. Without him, he said, "the country is completely lost."
Prison officials said Mubarak may be released as early as Thursday but it was unclear where he will be held under house arrest, whether in one of his residences or in a hospital, considering his frail health. El-Beblawi will decide where Mubarak goes.
Since his ouster, Mubarak's supporters have released conflicting details about his health, including that the 85 year old suffered a stroke, a heart attack and at times went into a coma. His critics called these an attempt to gain public sympathy and court leniency.
His wife, Suzanne, has been living in Cairo and keeping a low-profile, occasionally visiting Mubarak and their two sons in prison. But security officials said Mubarak was more likely to be moved to a military hospital because of his ailing health.
He is currently also standing re-trial on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising, which could put him back behind bars, and faces investigation into at least two other corruption cases as well.
The prospect of Mubarak being freed, even if only temporarily, would feed into the larger crisis bedeviling Egypt: the violent fallout from the July 3 coup that unseated his successor, the country's first freely elected president Mohammed Morsi.