Lebanese activist Ahmad Amhaz was released Thursday on a 500,000LL ($330) bail, following nine days in prison over a Facebook post that insulted political officials.
The court decision was made by Judge Pierre Francis.
Amhaz still faces trial for the Facebook post which criticized President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri.
He can face up to two years in prison if convicted.
“It’s a positive sign that the judge finally released him nine days after he was detained, but he never should have been held in jail for this type of offense in the first place,” Human Rights Watch Lebanon Researcher Bassam Khawaja told The Daily Star.
“We hope he will not be convicted,” he added.
No trial date has been set for Amhaz yet.
Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a Twitter post Wednesday that “his Excellency the President [Aoun] and I decided to let go of our personal rights regarding the case with the young man Ahmad Amhaz, and we let the prosecutor know.”
Ahmad Amhaz was detained on March 21 over the February Facebook post.
He criticized President Aoun, Prime Minister Hariri, and Speaker Berri in the post. “There are three animals currently ruling the country: A crocodile ... a donkey ... and one that hasn’t been revealed yet,” the post read, ending with the hashtag #republicofthejungle.
His lawyer, Wassef al-Harakeh, told local media following the arrest that Amhaz did not intend to insult anyone, but was facing financial and health problems in the family.
Under article 582 of Lebanon’s Penal Code, those charged with slander or defamation can face up to three months in jail and a fine ranging from 50,000LL ($33) to 400,000LL ($264.5).