On March 2, 2006, Libya freed 130 political prisoners, including 85 members of the Islamist opposition group Muslim Brotherhood. Some of the prisoners had been held in Libyan custody since 1998. Seventy-three of the Brotherhood's members were sentenced in 2002 for treason and participating in unauthorized political activity. The latter was a serious crime in a country where political parties were outlawed. The influential and reform-minded son of former Libyan leader Col. Muhamar Gaddafi, Saif al-Islam, had previously assured the prisoners of their release in August 2005. However, the prisoners began a hunger strike in January 2006 to draw attention to al-Islam's unfulfilled promise. Since the 2011 overthrow of Gaddafi's regime, the Muslim Brotherhood has participated openly in Libyan politics.
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