The Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed al-Najdi has been released by Egyptian authorities after spending over two years in detention, without going on trial.
Al-Najdi, who works with Al Jazeera Mubasher, the Arabic-language live television unit of the Qatar-based network, was released on Sunday. He had been detained since August 2020.
The Egyptian journalist’s health had been deteriorating, and al-Najdi said that he believed he was “on [his] way to the grave”, in comments made shortly after his release.
Al-Najdi said he suffers from diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions and that he was denied healthcare during the initial period of his time in prison, making it “very difficult”.
The journalist added that he had only appeared before the Egyptian judiciary three times during his detention, without being given the chance to make any statements.
He had originally been arrested while he was in Egypt on holiday, and was questioned about his work for Al Jazeera, according to rights groups. He was accused of membership in a “terrorist” group and spreading “false news”.
Egypt has been criticised by human rights groups for crackdowns on journalists and the opposition.
Al Jazeera Media Network had previously demanded that Egyptian authorities release al-Najdi along with three of his colleagues who had also been detained “without trial or charge”: Hisham Abdel Aziz, Bahauddin Ibrahim and Rabie el-Sheikh.
Two of them, Aziz and Ibrahim, had been arrested before al-Najdi, in June 2019 and February 2020 respectively. El-Sheikh was arrested in August 2021, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). They have been accused of “membership of a banned group” and “spreading false information”.
Al-Najdi has now appealed to Egyptian authorities to release his colleagues, calling on those who worked to facilitate his release, to “work even harder” to get them free. He added that their physical and mental health was suffering in detention.
Al-Najdi’s release came days after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi concluded a two-day visit to Qatar, where he met the Gulf state’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
It was el-Sisi’s first visit to Qatar since he became Egypt’s president in 2014 following a military coup.
The visit followed a trip by Sheikh Tamim to Egypt in June and suggests warming ties between the two countries.