Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Hussein released from jail in Egypt
After more than four years in detention without trial, Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein has been released by Egypt.
According to Al Jazeera, Hussein, an Egyptian national held under preventive detention since December 2016, was released from jail on 6 February 2021.
In a statement, Mostefa Souag, acting director-general of the Al Jazeera Media Network, said the release of Hussein was “a moment of truth and an inspiring milestone towards press freedom”.
“Al Jazeera Media Network welcomes the news of Mahmoud’s freedom and believes that no journalist should ever be subjected to what Mahmoud has suffered for the past four years for merely carrying out his profession.
“Today, we are pleased he is finally reunited with his family, after being robbed four years from his life and deprived of his fundamental rights. We wish Mahmoud a speedy recovery and hope he will be able to overcome this past ordeal and start a new chapter in his distinguished career.”
The 54-year-old was arrested in Cairo on December 23, 2016, while visiting his family for a holiday. He was interrogated for more than 15 hours without a lawyer present, before being released and then arrested again days later.
Egypt’s Ministry of Interior publicly accused him of “disseminating false news and receiving monetary funds from foreign authorities in order to defame the state’s reputation”, but no charges were ever formally brought against him. Hussein and Al Jazeera consistently denied the allegations.
Shortly after his arrest, Al Jazeera launched a worldwide media campaign calling for Hussein’s release. The AIB supported this campaign.
Egyptian authorities, however, extended Hussein’s detention more than a dozen times, far surpassing the country’s maximum period for pre-trial detention in violation of both Egyptian and international law.
During his time in jail, Hussein suffered physically and psychologically. He was held for long periods in solitary confinement and denied proper medical treatment when he broke his arm in 2017.
In January 2018, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that the conditions of Hussein’s imprisonment amounted to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”.