Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi ordered the release of a journalist who was jailed for insulting him and used his self-declared legislative authority for the first time Thursday to protect freedom of the press.
Islam Afifi, the editor-in-chief of a local independent newspaper, was charged with insulting the country's leader with "untruthful" statements after publishing a controversial front-page editorial on Aug. 9, in which the paper suggested that Egypt would see bloodshed and strife if Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood remained in power.
Many Egyptian people were angered by Afifi's arrest, accusing Morsi of continuing an authoritarian regime similar to the one under deposed President Hosni Mubarak.
However, just hours after Afifi's arrest, Morsi issued a law to protect journalists from temporary detention while they await trial.
Still, the charges against still stand against Afifi until his trial, which is planned for next month.
"Egypt should uphold its international obligations and ensure people are not subject to criminal prosecution for peaceful criticism, even if what they say is perceived to be offensive," said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland of the charges against Afifi.
The sudden change of a decades-old law was a reassuring surprise to many and came only a day before Friday, when the Egyptian people planned to walk on the street and protest the arrest.