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Press FreedomMiddle East

Egypt frees Al-Jazeera journalist after four years

February 6, 2021

Authorities held the Egyptian journalist for four years, accusing him of "spreading false information" and belonging to the banned group Muslim Brotherhood.

Undated photo of Egyptian journalist Mahmoud Hussein in Cairo.
An Egyptian court had ordered Hussein's release in 2019, but he was still detained on other charges Image: picture alliance/AP Photo/Al-Jazeera

Egyptian authorities on Saturday released journalist Mahmoud Hussein, who worked for the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera network, after four years in detention. 

The decision came after Egypt, part of a bloc with gulf countries, reconciled with Qatar following years of diplomatic rift. 

The Egyptian journalist was held on charges of "spreading false information” and affiliation with the banned group the Muslim Brotherhood, an accusation authorities have used against several journalists since President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi took power in 2014. 

Hussein's daughter, Azzahraa Hussein, said on Facebook that her father had made it home late Saturday. 

"For four years, my father slept on the floor in a small cell, where he was locked for 22 hours a day,” Azzahraa wrote, accusing Egyptian authorities of ill treatment of journalists in prison.

The Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a non-profit organization advocating press freedom in the region, said that Hussein's critical reporting had made him a target to the regime.

Egypt has long accused Al-Jazeera of biased coverage of the country's political issues and siding with the Muslim Brotherhood, which the network denied.  

Reporters Without Borders describe Egypt as "one of the world's biggest jailers of journalists." In 2020, the country ranked 166 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index.

fb/aw (AFP, dpa)