His Excellency Mr. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
Arab Republic of Egypt
22 December 2020
Urgent appeal to release journalist Mahmoud Hussein
On behalf the members of International Press Institute (IPI), a Vienna-based global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, I would like to express IPI’s deep concern about the continued arbitrary detention of IPI member and Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein for the past four years.
Hussein has spent four years in the notorious Tora prison without trial or conviction. Your government has repeatedly and illegally extended his detention, accusing him of broadcasting “fake news” and “defaming” state institutions.
Hussein was originally arrested upon his arrival in Cairo on a trip to visit family on December 20, 2016. He was interrogated for over 14 hours without a lawyer present, before being released and then arrested again days later. Since then, his detention has been extended more than a dozen times.
In May 2019, a court decision to release him under “precautionary measures” was bypassed and Hussein was kept in detention.
During his time in jail, Hussein has been held for long periods in solitary confinement and systematically denied his legal rights. Hussein was denied proper medical treatment in prison when he broke his arm in 2017.
As you must be aware, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded in January 2018 that the conditions of Hussein’s imprisonment amounted to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. The African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has also raised the issue of Hussein’s imprisonment with your government.
Despite these observations and appeals, the Egyptian government has continued to detain Hussein.
IPI has repeatedly called on your government to respect international law and basic human rights and release Hussein as well as all jailed journalists.
Your excellency, we urge to you ensure that your government respects the rule of law and immediately release Mahmoud Hussein. Press freedom is an essential element of a democratic society, which Egypt claims to be.
International Press Institute