A senior official in Egypt's presidency says Egyptians are free to join the fight in Syria and will not be prosecuted upon return.

In a response to an Associated Press question Thursday about the government's stance on citizens going to fight alongside Syrian rebels, Khaled al-Qazzaz said that "the right of travel or freedom of travel is open for all Egyptians".

He said that after the 2011 uprising, the government no longer punishes Egyptians for what they do in other countries. Al-Qazzaz, a foreign affairs adviser to Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, said the presidency does not consider Egyptian nationals in Syria a threat to Egypt's security.

His comments come just days after influential Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi urged Sunnis everywhere to join the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad.