Al Jazeera, the UN, and several press associations have called for the immediate release of Mahmoud Hussein [Al Jazeera]
An Egyptian court in Cairo renewed the detention of Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein who has now spent 447 days in prison without charge.
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Judge Hussein Qandeel of the 23rd Circuit Criminal Court granted the jail extension for the twelth time on Sunday.
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 put in solitary confinement, denied his legal rights, and has yet to be formally charged.
During his time in detention, Hussein suffered a broken arm and has not received proper medical treatment for the wound.
By Egyptian law, the maximum time a person can be detained for interrogation is two years. If Hussein remains imprisoned, he will hit that maximum in December 2018.
Al Jazeera has condemned the repeated renewals of his detention, denies all the allegations against Hussein, and demands his immediate and unconditional release.
Human rights and press freedom organisations have also denounced Hussein’s treatment, with his family saying the 51-year-old is suffering from poor physical and pyschological health.
In February, the United Nations called Hussein’s case one of “arbitrary detention”, saying the “appropriate remedy would be to release Mr Hussein immediately”.
The International Press Institute has also called on Egypt to immediately release Hussein and other journalists in a social media campaign, using the hashtag #PressEgypt.
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.
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.