WASHINGTON — Authorities in Egypt must promptly free Mahmoud Hussein, an Al Jazeera producer who has been detained without trial for more than three and a half years, leaders of the National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute said.
Hussein, an Egyptian who works for the Al Jazeera Arabic channel in Qatar, has been imprisoned since December 2016 — more than 1,300 days ago. He was detained during a trip to Egypt to visit his family and has been kept in solitary confinement and denied medical treatment for a broken bone he sustained early in his incarceration nearly three years ago.
At least 25 other journalists are being held in Egyptian jail cells, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Last month, reporter Mohamed Monir who had appeared on Al Jazeera, died of COVID-19, which he had apparently contracted during nearly a month of pre-trial detention.
“Hussein’s lengthy incarceration violates not only universal standards of human rights but also Egyptian law, which sets a maximum pretrial detention period of 620 days for individuals being investigated for a felony,” said Michael Freedman, the National Press Club president. “It is long past time that Hussein be returned to his family.”
“Egypt is regularly ranked among the nations with the worst records on press freedom, and Hussein’s case shows why,” said Angela Greiling Keane, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the Club’s nonprofit affiliate. “Journalism is not a crime.”
Hussein was charged in 2016 with “incitement against state institutions and broadcasting false news with the aim of spreading chaos.”
His arrest was believed to be a response to Al Jazeera’s broadcast one month earlier of a documentary on military conscription in Egypt. Authorities in Cairo have barred broadcasts of Al Jazeera in the country and targeted its journalists on the grounds that the Qatar-based network supports the Muslim Brotherhood organization.
Founded in 1908, the National Press Club is the World’s Leading Professional Organization for Journalists. The club has 3,000 members representing every major journalism organization.
The club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute form a powerful voice for press freedom worldwide. The Institute, a nonprofit affiliate of the club, promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.