A leading Egyptian activist behind the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak has been released from prison after serving a three-year sentence for violating a ban on unauthorized protests.

A lawyer for Ahmed Maher says he was released early Thursday and returned to his Cairo home. The lawyer, Tarek al-Awadi, says Maher will be under surveillance for the next three years as part of his sentence.

Maher was the co-founder of the April 6 movement, which used social media to bring protesters into the streets in Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations that forced Mubarak to resign in February 2011. Two and half years later, the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president and the new government banned all unauthorized demonstrations.