Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has spent 1,400 days in prison under arbitrary and illegal detention by Egyptian authorities without trial or conviction.
An Egyptian national working for the Al Jazeera Arabic television channel in Qatar, Hussein was arrested in Cairo on December 23, 2016 while on vacation with his family.
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Commenting on Hussein’s imprisonment, Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of Al Jazeera Media Network said: “Mahmoud’s detention, which is in grave violation of both Egyptian and international law, is deplorable. It must come to an end.
“With the high risk of transmission of COVID-19 in crowded prison conditions, we call upon the Egyptian authorities to free all detained journalists and urge the international community to pressure Egypt and all governments to reaffirm the values of press freedom.”
Hussein was accused of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”, allegations he and Al Jazeera have refuted.
Under Egyptian law, it is illegal to hold an individual without charge for more than two years. Hussein has now been held for more than three years and eight months.
Previously, Egyptian authorities eluded the law by releasing Hussein on the two-year mark, only to rearrest him on an additional fictitious charge.
While in solitary confinement, Hussein suffered a broken arm and has been refused proper medical treatment.
Since the 2013 overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Jazeera has been portrayed as Egypt’s national enemy for its coverage of the group.
In July, veteran Egyptian journalist Mohamed Monir died after contracting the novel coronavirus during pretrial detention following his arrest for appearing on Al Jazeera, which is banned by Egypt’s government.
Egypt continues to be one of the leading violators of press freedom. Reporters Without Borders ranked Egypt 166th out of 180 in its 2020 Press Freedom Index.
More than 50 American politicians this week called on Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to release activists, journalists, lawyers and prisoners of conscience.
In a letter released on Monday, 55 congressional Democrats and one independent urged el-Sisi to release those “unjustly detained for exercising their fundamental human rights”.
“The unjust detention of Egyptian human rights defenders, peaceful political activists and other prisoners of conscience is in direct opposition to the rights and freedoms enshrined in Egyptian and American law,” said legislator Jim McGovern.