Egypt renews Mahmoud Hussein’s detention for 11th time

Egypt extends Al Jazeera journalist’s detention for another 45 days, and he has still not been formally charged.

Egypt has extended the detention of Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein for an 11th time, 403 days after he was first arrested on bogus charges.

Hussein, an Egyptian national based in Qatar, was stopped, questioned and arrested by authorities on December 20, 2016, after travelling to Cairo for a holiday.

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 held for a total of 403 days, enduring months in solitary confinement, being denied his legal rights, all the while yet to be formally charged.

On Saturday, Egyptian authorities decided to extend his detention for a period of 45 days.

Al Jazeera has condemned the repeated renewals of his detention, denies all the allegations against him and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.

Human rights and press freedom organisations have also condemned Hussein’s detention, with his family saying the 51-year-old is suffering from poor health after not receiving proper medical attention since breaking his arm.

Media crackdown

Over the past few years, Egyptian authorities have arrested several Al Jazeera employees, raising grave concerns over media freedoms 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 in 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, while 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.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Egypt ranks third worldwide among nations jailing media workers – having locked up 20 in 2017.

INSIDE STORY: How far will Egypt go in attacking media freedoms? (25:14)

Source: Al Jazeera