The former leader will face new charges but under house arrest.
Egypt’s former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, has been released from prison and flown to a military hospital after appealing against his detention.
He is now expected to be put under house arrest, as the 85-year-old still faces charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of demonstrators during the protests that toppled him in 2011.
His release is seen by many as a sign that the military is rolling back the changes that flowed from the uprising.
But in a divided Egypt, polarized by more than a month of instability and violence since the overthrow of Mr. Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, the release by the army-backed government was predictably welcomed by many Egyptians, while many also despised it.
“He protected the country,” a housewife, Lobna Mohamed, in the crowd of Mubarak well-wishers was quoted by the New York Times as saying. “He is a good man, but we want (Abdel Fattah) Sisi now,” she said, referring to the army commander who overthrew Islamist Mohamed Morsi on July 3.
Another Egyptian was quoted by Reuters news agency as criticizing the release.
“He should stay in prison. The country is facing obstacles so people are turning back to Mubarak. They don’t know what they are doing,” said Hoda Saleh, a fully veiled woman who was leaving Tora, where her brother is an inmate.
Analysts say the move is likely to deepen the political crisis sparked by the army’s overthrow of Mr. Morsi.
A Cairo appeals court on Wednesday ordered that Mr. Mubarak should be freed after he settled a corruption case by repaying gifts he had received from state-owned media companies.
The April 6 protest movement which led to an uprising that forced Mr. Mubarak to step down in 2011, condemned the court order as a “deviation from the course of the revolution.”
In an apparent bid to allay public anger over the release, Prime Minister, Hazem Beblawy used his powers under a state of emergency declared last week and ordered that Mr. Mubarak should be placed under house arrest.
Mr. Mubarak still faces a retrial on charges of killing protesters during the uprising that ended his 30-year rule.
The court ruling came as the military-backed government continues a crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood who are demanding the reinstatement of Morsi toppled by the military last month. The Brotherhood accused Egypt’s new rulers of seeking to revive the Mubarak-era regime.
Mr. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators. But a court accepted his appeal earlier this year and ordered a retrial in the case, for which he has already served the maximum amount of pretrial detention. Mubarak was arrested in April, 2011.
On Thursday, the medical helicopter arrived at Tora, as dozens of Mr. Mubarak supporters – some waving flags – gathered outside the prison.