EL-ARISH, (AFP) – Egyptian authorities on Friday released a top official of the Palestinian Hamas group who had been held for almost two weeks, an Egyptian security official told AFP.
Mohammed Khamis Dababesh, believed to be the head of the Hamas general security service, was arrested in Cairo on his arrival from Damascus earlier this month, a move slammed by the group as “extremely dangerous.”
“He has been released and is on his way to Gaza,” the Egyptian official said.
The release was confirmed by Hamas in a statement.
Dababesh was “suspected of involvement in activities harmful to Egyptian state security, including an attempt to traffic a significant quantity of sophisticated telecommunications equipment,” the state-owned daily Al-Ahram said after his arrest.
He was also accused of being responsible in his capacity as security chief for the death in January of an Egyptian policeman during an exchange of fire at the Gaza border.
On Tuesday, Hamas denied the allegations against Dababesh, saying the arrest was a “real mockery of Egyptian-Palestinian relations.”
Hamas has controlled Gaza since June 2007 when it ousted forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. It is strongly opposed to renewed peace talks between Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and Israel.