Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has now been held in an Egyptian prison without charge for three years.
Hussein, an Egyptian national, was arrested shortly after his arrival in Egypt on December 20, 2016, while on a personal visit.
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In May 2019, an Egyptian court rejected an order by the state prosecutor to release him. Authorities opened a new investigation against him with unspecified charges and returned him to prison.
While in solitary confinement, Hussein suffered a broken arm and has been refused proper medical treatment.
His request to visit his father, Hussein Jumaa, who was in hospital in a critical condition, was also rejected by the prison warden.
Jumaa, who had suffered five strokes since his eldest son Hussein was detained, died in November.
“No one responded to our calls for two months when we requested that my dad be allowed to see his ailing father for just an hour,” Hussein’s daughter Zahraa wrote in a Facebook post last month.
“All we want today if for [our father] to be allowed to say goodbye to his dad and bury him,” she added.
Al Jazeera Media Network (AJMN) has consistently denied the charges levied against Hussein and has called for his release.
Egypt’s penal code sets a maximum pretrial detention period of 620 days for individuals being investigated for a felony.
Barbara Trionfi, executive director at the Vienna-based International Press Institute (IPI), released a video statement calling for Hussein’s immediate release.
“[Hussein’s] detention has repeatedly and illegally been extended by the Egyptian authorities for three years,” Trionfi said, adding that his situation was against international and Egyptian law.
Crackdown on journalists
Since the 2013 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, AJMN has been portrayed as Egypt’s national enemy for its coverage of the group.
That same year, Egypt arrested and later imprisoned Al Jazeera’s Abdullah Elshamy, Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste on charges of spreading “false news” – cases that were widely condemned by international media outlets and many politicians. All have since been freed.
A former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic was sentenced to death in absentia for purportedly endangering national security.
Several other Al Jazeera journalists have also been charged in absentia for spreading lies and supporting “terrorists” – a reference to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood organisation.
In 2017, the Egyptian government blocked access to Al Jazeera’s news website along with dozens of others it deemed too critical of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi‘s regime.
According to a 2018 report by the New York-based Committee to Protest Journalists, Egypt, along with Turkey and China, was responsible for more than half of journalists jailed around the world for the third year in a row.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt 163rd out of 180 in its 2019 Press Freedom Index.