Mahmoud Hussein
Mahmoud Hussein

KARACHI: The Inter­national Press Institute (IPI) has again urged Egypt to free Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein, who has now spent 1,000 days behind bars.

The IPI is a global network of editors, media executives and journalists. In 2018, the IPI in collaboration with partner organisations, launched the #PressEgypt campaign to put pressure on the Egyptian government to secure the release of imprisoned journalists.

Mr Hussein was arrested on Dec 20, 2016, upon his arrival 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 has been repeatedly extended despite a lack of official charges, the IPI said in a press release issued recently.

In January 2018, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that Mr Hussein’s detention was arbitrary and that the conditions of his arrest and imprisonment amounted to a cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“Egypt’s continued arbitrary detention of Mahmoud Hussein is an affront to basic international human rights principles,” IPI executive director Barbara Trionfi said. “Moreover, in holding Mr Hussein without charges and refusing to release him despite a court order, Egypt has disregarded its own judicial system,” she added.

Despite a court order on May 21 to release Mr Hussein, Egyptian officials sent him back to the notorious Tora prison after keeping him for one day at a police station and raising hopes of his release. As per Egyptian law, Mr Hussein should have been freed within 24 hours after the court order.

According to information received by IPI, the Egyptian government has launched a new investigation based on the previous accusations.

“We ask the Egyptian government to respect the rule of law by immediately releasing Mahmoud Hussein,” Ms Trionfi said. “Press freedom is an essential element of a democratic society, which Egypt claims to be,” she said.

Published in Dawn, September 16th, 2019

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