Egypt: Journalist freed after four years in prison on “false news” charges

Al-Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has been released on 5 February after spending four years in prison on allegations of spreading “false news”. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes Hussein's release which puts an end to his 1500 days ordeal and urges Egyptian authorities to release all imprisoned journalists in Egypt.

Credit: Al Jazeera

A Qatar-based journalist and an Egyptian national, Mahmoud Hussein was initially arrested on 23rd December 2016, while on vacation with his family. Since then he has been detained facing accusations of “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos”. He never faced formal charges or a trial.

In May 2019, a court ordered his release under “precautionary measures”. However, he was sent back to jail the following day after the authorities launched new investigations against him.

Mahmoud remained in custody since then and, in total, he has spent over 1500 days in prison without formal charges, a trial or conviction.

His arrest was widely condemned by international rights groups and media freedom organisations, including the IFJ and the United Nations. 

Egypt is one of the countries known for their practice of jailing journalists for simply doing their job. According to the IFJ records, Egypt is the second biggest jailer of journalists in the world with 24 media workers currently behind bars, just behind Turkey (67).

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We welcome Mahmoud’s release and his return to his home to be reunited with his family after such a long separation due to his arbitrary detention. Egypt’s record on attacks on journalists and press freedom is shameful and must be condemned by the whole international community without exception. Dozens of journalists are still in jail for simply doing their job and the IFJ will continue working for their immediate and unconditional release”.

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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