The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and journalists, today called on Egypt to uphold the rule of law and release Al Jazeera correspondent and IPI member Mahmoud Hussein.
A Egyptian court on May 21 ordered Hussein’s release after nearly 900 days, a decision upheld by an appeals court on May 23. However, authorities have returned Hussein to the notorious Tora Prison after having initially transferred him to a police station and raising hopes of his release.
As per Egyptian law, Hussein should have been released within 24 hours after the court order. Officials are said to have opened a new investigation against Hussein, though it remains unclear what the content of that investigation might be. Sources told IPI that Hussein was again not able to access legal counsel.
“Egypt is making a mockery of the rule of law and its own judicial system by ignoring the court’s order to release Mahmoud Hussein from detention”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said. “Mr. Hussein’s jailing is in clear violation of international law. He must be freed unconditionally and without delay.”
Hussein, a father of nine, has spent 890 days in prison. He was arrested on December 20, 2016, upon arriving at Cairo airport and accused of “disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state’s reputation”. His detention was repeatedly extended; no official charges were ever brought. An Egyptian national, Hussein worked as a news editor for Al Jazeera’s Arabic service until his arrest.
In January 2018, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Hussein’s detention was arbitrary and that the conditions of his arrest and imprisonment amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
In 2018, IPI in collaboration with partner organizations, launched the #PressEgypt campaign to put pressure on the Egyptian government to secure the release of imprisoned journalists.