Egypt: release of Al-Jazeera journalist after more than 4 years of detention

Published on : 05/02/2021 – 12:38Modified : 05/02/2021 – 12:36

Cairo (AFP)

Egypt has released Mahmoud Hussein, a journalist for the Qatari television channel Al-Jazeera in preventive detention since December 2016, on suspicion of “spreading false information”, a security source told AFP on Friday.

The Egyptian journalist was released Thursday evening, this source said, without further details.

The television station – which had repeatedly claimed that he was being held without formal charge, without trial and without conviction – did not immediately confirm this statement.

Gamal Eid, president of the NGO Arab Network for Information on Human Rights (ANHRI), “told AFP that the authorities had decided to release Mr. Hussein but that he was” not yet returned home “.

The NGO Egyptian Observatory for Journalism and the Media let it be known on Facebook that the Cairo criminal court decided on Monday to release the man suspected of “inciting sedition against the state” and “spreading fake news”.

Calls for his release have multiplied, in particular from Amnesty International.

A court ordered his parole in May 2019 but, a week later, he was hit with another round of charges and kept in detention.

Mahmoud Hussein, an Egyptian who worked at Al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, was arrested at the end of December 2016, three days after his arrival in Egypt where he had gone with his family for a vacation.

Egypt is one of the Arab countries that in June 2017 broke off diplomatic relations with Qatar, accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, described as a “terrorist” organization by Cairo. Al-Jazeera is considered a media outlet for the Muslim Brotherhood.

These relations officially resumed on January 20, as part of the reconciliation sealed earlier this month between Doha and several countries in the region.

The regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in power since the army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, is regularly accused by NGOs of muzzling the opposition, Islamist as well as secular.

Cairo systematically denies these accusations and claims to want to fight against terrorism and the risks of instability.

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