Al Jazeera has denounced Egypt‘s decision on Thursday to extend Mahmoud Hussein’s detention by 45 days, demanding his unconditional release.
Hussein, an Egyptian national based in Qatar, was stopped, questioned and arrested by authorities on December 20, after travelling to Cairo for a holiday.
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Five days after his initial arrest, Egypt’s interior ministry accused him of “disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state’s reputation”.
Since then, he has been detained for 184 days, suffering mistreatment and being denied his legal rights.
Al Jazeera has rejected the allegations against him and urges his unconditional release.
The Al Jazeera Media Network said in a statement on Thursday that it holds the Egyptian authorities responsible for his safety and well-being.
“Al Jazeera Media Network rejects all the baseless allegations against Hussein, and condemns the unfair detention, in addition to obtaining false confessions by force. Furthermore, the network holds the Egyptian authorities responsible for Hussein’s safety and well-being,” it said.
Over the past few years, Egyptian authorities have arrested several Al Jazeera employees, raising concerns over media freedom in the country.
In May 2016, a Cairo court sentenced a former editor-in-chief of Al Jazeera Arabic, Ibrahim Helal, to death, charging him in absentia with endangering national security.
Al Jazeera’s Baher Mohamed, Mohamed Fahmy and Peter Greste – along with seven colleagues outside the country – were accused of spreading “false news” during their coverage of the aftermath of the military overthrow of then-president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the year they were taken into custody.
Mohamed and Fahmy spent 437 days in jail before being released. Greste spent more than a year in prison.
The judge who sentenced the journalists said they were brought together “by the devil” to destabilise the country.